Limited sales could kill meth

Thursday, January 27, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:49 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Over-the-counter cold medicine could soon be under lock and key.

In hopes of curbing methamphetamine production in the state, a set of bills would require pharmacists to record everyone who buys a product containing the meth ingredient pseudoephedrine. The chemical can be found in common cold medicines like Sudafed.

“We have a reputation nationwide for our meth levels,” said Sen. Norma Champion, R-Greene County. “This new system would allow state law enforcement to access these records at any time.”

At hearings Monday, bill sponsors Champion and Sen. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, presented their cases to the judiciary committee.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said these measures were too extreme and would be an inconvenience.

“Instead of clamping down on legal products that consumers need, we need to deal with the addiction,” Graham said. “This is wagging the tail on the dog.”

This is not the first time that Missouri legislators have attempted to attack the meth issue. In May 2003, a bill passed that put a two-package limitation on consumers purchasing products whose sole ingredient was ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

Champion and Cauthorn say this limitation wasn’t effective, and these products should not be readily available on shelves. Similar legislation to the new bills recently passed in Oklahoma.

“This is a proven way to control meth production,” said Cauthorn. “The number of meth lab busts have decreased in Oklahoma because they’re producing less.”

Some Missouri convenience and drug stores have already implemented the recording policy for pseudoephedrine products. Bob Pryor, a Columbia pharmacist, has no problem with the extra step.

“Most people have no problem with the policy after I explain it to them,” Pryor said. “Others have turned and ran.”

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