Pubdate: Tue, 10 Oct 2006
Source: Lincoln Journal Star (NE)
Copyright: 2006 Lincoln Journal Star
Author: Lori Pilger, Lincoln Journal Star


They've found them in homes and cars, in motel rooms, even storage 
sheds and barns.

But a year after a law to keep pseudoephedrine off store shelves went 
into effect, the state's law enforcement officers are finding a lot 
fewer methamphetamine labs.

And, at a press conference Tuesday at the State Capitol, Gov. Dave 
Heineman pointed to the 80 percent drop as proof that the state's 
"anti-meth law" is working.

A bar chart beside him laid out the numbers. From Sept. 4, 2004, to 
Sept. 3, 2005, there were 322 meth labs reported in Nebraska. The 
next 12 months, saw just 53.

The difference? Heineman said it's thanks to LB117, a law that went 
into effect on Sept. 4, 2005, and put pseudoephedrine-based cold 
medicines behind store counters and restricted sales to no more than 
1,440 milligrams a day to those 18 or older who show an ID.

"It made a real difference and I appreciate all the work that was 
done in the legislature to make this happen," Heineman said.

The federal government since has followed states like Nebraska and 
Iowa creating similar nationwide legislation, he said.

Nebraska State Patrol Col. Bryan Tuma said by restricting the sale of 
the cold medicines it has taken away one of the main ingredients used 
to make meth.

It was never intended to solve the state's meth problem, he said.

"It was, and is, intended to help solve the state's meth lab problem."

Tuma said the vast majority of meth is brought into Nebraska from the 
Southwest U.S. and Mexico. But in the past most of the state's drug 
resources were used to uncover and dismantle meth labs, "a dangerous, 
expensive and time consuming process."

"With LB117 reducing the numbers of labs, our investigators can now 
focus their attention on dealers who bring this dangerous drug across 
our borders, and dedicate more effort at stopping the meth and other 
illegal drugs from reaching our communities and neighborhoods," Tuma said.

He cited two recent investigations -- one in Dawson County and one in 
the Grand Island area -- that together led to 30 arrests involving 
more than  1/4 pound of methamphetamine and 2 pounds of marijuana.

Tuma said with the success of LB117 and by working with partners in 
drug task forces across the state, they now are able to dedicate 
resources needed to pursue investigations, which often take months to complete.

"But when they are finished they do take drugs off our streets and 
put dozens of people responsible behind bars," he said.

Tuma said there's still work to do.

"Make no mistake, meth continues to be a problem," he said.

Heineman said methamphetamine has ensnared the state's communities, 
young people and families, and he's talked with teachers in 
elementary schools and foster care families dealing with the problem. 
Much more must be done, he said.

"It's impacting a lot of lives in a lot of different areas of our 
state. It's a very serious problem," Heineman said.
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