Pubdate: Fri, 29 Apr 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Lindsay Nash
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


RALEIGH -- Legislation aimed at slowing methamphetamine production moved 
one step closer Thursday to becoming a law.

The Meth Lab Prevention Act cleared the state Senate on a 45-2 vote.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper has pushed for the law to fight the 
spread of meth labs by controlling sales of meth's key ingredient.

"These deadly drugs destroy families and communities," Cooper said. "We've 
got to pass this law now to stop our meth lab problem from turning into a 

The measure, introduced by Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford, would require 
tablet forms of common cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, such as 
Sudafed, to be sold only from behind a pharmacy counter.

"We feel real good about it because all these stores like Target, Wal-Mart, 
CVS and others are saying that it is important and they are going to 
cooperate" said Sen. John Snow, D-Cherokee.

Wal-Mart, CVS Corp. and Rite Aid have said this week they will place the 
cold medicines behind the counter. Target Corp. announced the same 
intention last week.

The new law would require customers to show photo identification to buy 
tablets containing pseudoephedrine. Purchases would be limited to no more 
than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine within 30 days without a prescription. The 
restrictions would not apply to liquid and gel forms of the products. Those 
are not commonly used in making meth.

Meth production and addiction has soared in North Carolina, where 243 labs 
were found last year, up from nine in 1999. Most were in the Western North 
Carolina. Rural areas help hide the pungent, ammonia smell that comes from 
making meth.

Since enacting similar legislation last year, Oklahoma has seen an 80 
percent drop in meth production. Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Iowa, 
Kansas and Oregon also have passed bills patterned after the Oklahoma law. 
Similar measures are under consideration in many other states, including 
Western and Midwestern states, where meth lab busts total in the thousands 

The North Carolina legislation would hurt "mom and pop" meth labs, said 
Leslie McCrory, who is working to set up meth rehabilitation programs in WNC.

"I think it's a real positive step that our state is taking," she said. "It 
shows a lot of support."

The legislation next goes before a House committee.

Cooper also has asked legislators for money to hire 13 additional State 
Bureau of Investigation agents to help bust meth labs.
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