Pubdate: Thu, 03 Feb 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: James Mayse, Messenger-Inquirer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


FRANKFORT - A bill introduced in the state Senate would attempt to
curb the production of methamphetamine by restricting how certain meth
ingredients are sold and by establishing harsher penalties for people
who expose children to meth labs.

The bill was introduced Tuesday by Sen. Robert Stivers II, a
Manchester Republican. At a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Ernie
Fletcher and Lt. Gov. Steve Pence praised the bill and said the
legislation has bipartisan support.

The bill "will help us fight methamphetamine manufacturing and will
also help us protect children," Fletcher said.

The bill would prohibit the sale of dietary supplements that contain
the ephedrine group alkaloids except by prescription. It also would
require that products containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or
phenylpropanolamine in tablet form only be sold over the counter by
pharmacies. These are found in many common cold medications, such as

A person buying such products over the counter would have to sign for
the purchase, and the bill would require pharmacies to keep a log of
those who purchase the product. The log would be open to law
enforcement officials who could examine the books for buying patterns.

The bill also would lower the amount of pseudoephedrine products a
person can purchase in a month from 24 grams to nine grams. The sale
of products that contain pseudoephedrine in nontablet form would not
be restricted under the bill, Fletcher said.

A new felony criminal charge -- controlled substance endangerment --
would be created to prosecute people who make methamphetamine near
children. The charge could range from a class D felony -- punishable
by one to five years in prison -- if a child is not injured, up to a
class A felony -- 20 years to life in prison -- in cases where a child
is killed by a meth lab explosion. The bill also would create the
standard that possession of two or more meth ingredients or pieces of
lab equipment, and intent, are necessary to substantiate a
manufacturing methamphetamine charge.

Fletcher said the bill is modeled after similar legislation passed in
April 2004 in Oklahoma. Statistics provided by the governor's office
said Oklahoma saw a 50 percent decrease in meth labs being discovered
by police in 2004 -- after the laws were enacted -- compared with the
previous year.

"We are supporting legislation that has a proven track record,"
Fletcher said. Between 1998 and 2004, the number of meth labs
discovered in Kentucky increased by 3,000 percent -- from 19 in 1998
to 579 in 2004, according to figures released Wednesday at the
governor's news conference.

The bill, Pence said, is one part of the Fletcher administration's
approach to addressing drug crime and addiction, which also includes
substance abuse treatment and efforts by state drug courts.

"It's all part of a very big plan," Pence said.

LaVonda Muncy and Raina McMillin, who live in far western Kentucky,
came to support the bill. Muncy and McMillin are both recovering
methamphetamine addicts who went through judicial drug court programs.
Both have been free of meth addiction for four years, and now work
with other addicts.

"Some of us do recover. That's the message we're trying to get out,"
Muncy said.

McMillin said the bill is a good idea but said meth makers have
continuously adapted to efforts to prohibit access to ingredients such
as anhydrous ammonia.

"This is a great start," Muncy said of the bill. "Everything we can do
to recognize the problem is a great start. ... (Meth) ruins so many
lives. It's an absolute life destroyer."

Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain, who attended Wednesday's news
conference, said the meth problem in western Kentucky is

"There is no other drug that comes to be even a close second in
causing the devastation that methamphetamine has," Cain said. The
bill, Cain said, is a positive for law enforcement.

"Obviously, the law enforcement community applauds their efforts,"
Cain said.
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