Pubdate: Wed, 20 Apr 2005
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Decatur Daily
Author: Chris Paschenko
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


A federal drug agent predicted a law restricting sales of over-the-counter 
medicines used in methamphetamine production would spawn a rise in 
robberies of pharmaceutical retailers.

The scourges of meth and dealing with child abuse headlined Tuesday's Third 
Annual Child Safety Conference in Decatur, which focused on protecting 
children and teens.

F.J. "Rocky" Harnen Jr., a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, 
detailed the meth epidemic threatening North Alabama and authorities' 
struggle to overcome, "the strongest man-made stimulant that we know of."

If Alabama passes the bill, it would require retailers of 
pseudoephedrine-containing medicines to restrict sales to three packages, 
require purchasers to sign a register and show photo identification.

Harnen addressed police, counselors, and health and social workers on the 
dangers of dealing with meth "users" and the extremes addicts go through to 
obtain the drug.

"Have I seen many success stories?" Harnen said. "No. Ninety-nine percent 
go right back to using again. The cooks go back to cooking again ...

"If they know (pseudoephedrine) is behind the counter, they're going to rob 
places to get it."

Hotel rooms

Harnen said meth makers prefer to produce the drug in hotel rooms. Meth 
waste is a hazard and potentially lethal.

"We've had hotel (rooms) blow up in Scottsboro and Boaz," Harnen said. "I 
don't make my coffee in the coffee machine anymore. Coffeepots have been 
used to make meth. If I see red iodine stains in the bed sheets, toilet, 
shower, sink or tub, I go get another room."

Decatur police Lt. Vince Baer said his department attended to learn more 
and refresh themselves with issues affecting child safety.

Sue Brantley, executive director of the Morgan County Mental Health 
Association, said plans for a fourth conference are under way.

"I've heard some comments on how diverse the conference was this year," 
Brantley said.

"People were amazed at the personal stories and with the description of the 
drug problem. ... We brought in our local experts from the community. To me 
that is a positive."
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