02/24/11 In the wake of year-end reports that law enforcement seized nearly 1,400 meth labs in 2010, Senate legislators voted 46-3 today in support of a bill co-authored by State Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) providing a new weapon in the fight against the narcotic.
Senate Bill 503 works to curb the manufacturing of methamphetamines by tracking the statewide sales of cold and allergy medications containing precursors to the illegal drug and preventing purchases exceeding certain limits.
“Methamphetamine crime is at an all-time high,” Charbonneau said. “A key to winning the war against this narcotic is to prevent meth cooks from purchasing medications with the intent of converting them into illegal drugs. A meth-check system could also help law enforcement gather intelligence so they can locate and dismantle labs and arrest criminals.”
Current efforts to curb meth manufacturing and use include tightly restricting the amounts of pseudo-ephedrine products that can be purchased and securing the items behind pharmacy counters.
“At this point, pharmacies are tracking the sales of these products, but they are unable to communicate with each other,” Charbonneau said. “By using a system in Indiana where all retailers are connected and share information, we can stop meth cooks that currently go to store after store each time buying their legal limits.”
Under SB 503, Hoosier retailers at the time of the transaction will input data about the sales of nonprescription cough, cold and allergy medications containing ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine into a real-time logging system – the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx). Information on the system, administered by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators at no costs to states, is transmitted instantly to a database for review by other pharmacies and law enforcement.
When transactions exceed amounts set by state or federal law – currently 3.6 grams in one day or 9 grams in a 30-day period – messages are instantly sent to retailers recommending denial of sales, Charbonneau said. Retailers in Indiana would then block the sales of pseudo-ephedrine products to meth cooks.
SB 503 can now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.