Pubdate: Sun, 01 May 2005
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Decatur Daily
Author: M.J. Ellington
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


MONTGOMERY - The over-the-counter medicine that controls your watery
eyes and sneezes also easily converts to "crystal meth" in a drug
dealer's makeshift lab.

Production of the cheap addictive drug spread more rapidly over North
Alabama than other parts of the state, says Rep. Frank McDaniel,
D-Albertville, who sponsors a bill to make ingredients for crystal
meth harder to buy. Now, McDaniel said the problem that was primarily
rural has spread over the state, and lawmakers feel an urgency to act.

Committees in the House and Senate will take up companion bills
Tuesday to make it more difficult for people to buy the common
decongestant that converts easily to methamphetamine.

With bills on the fast track in both chambers, Attorney General Troy
King said he is hopeful the legislation will pass this session. Gov.
Bob Riley supports it as well.

"There is no more urgent matter in Alabama today," King said of the
need to control methamphetamine production and sales. "When you look
into the face of methamphetamine abuse, when you see how powerful the
addiction is and how easy the drug is to make, you see the damage it
can do."

King said it is important that Alabama not be the only state in the
Southeast without a law to control access to the nonprescription
drugs. "We don't need to be a dumping ground for this problem," he
added. Georgia passed similar legislation in March, and King said
other nearby states passed legislation.

For the consumer with a cold or allergy, the legislation would make it
more difficult to buy popular nonprescription drugs containing
ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. If legislation passes, consumers will
have to ask for the drugs at the pharmacy counter and show
identification before they pay. They will have limits on the amount of
the drug at each purchase.

Lawmakers who sponsor the legislation believe it is a small
inconvenience to pay to control illicit drug makers.

Rep. Frank McDaniel, D-Albertville, sponsors the House bill. "We are
not going to stop crystal meth problems, but our goal is to make it
harder to get the ingredients to produce it," McDaniel said.

People who make crystal meth often buy multiple packages of
inexpensive over-the-counter decongestants at several stores and then
cook them to produce methamphetamine. In cars, mobile homes, homes and
hotel rooms, they use a process that easily produces a quick way to a
high or to make a buck but also may lead to fire, explosions or death.

Sens. Tom Butler, D-Madison, and Tommy Ed Roberts, D-Hartselle, are
sponsors of the Senate legislation.

Butler, a pharmacist, called methamphetamine one of the deadliest
drugs any manufacturer can make. He said because of the concerns, many
pharmacies already voluntarily limit the number of packages of the
decongestant that a consumer can buy at one time.

"It is a travesty that it takes one of the most effective cold
medicines on the market and turns it into this awful substance,"
Butler said.

Roberts said he hopes the legislation can be a deterrent to the meth
labs. He said children are often innocent victims due to their
exposure when their parents make the drug at home.
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