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Locals seem to favor new anti-meth plan

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

(Photo)

In the wake of proposals by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster to make cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine available by prescription only, most local business owners and law enforcement officials are showing support for the plan, which would further restrict the access to the main ingredient used in teh manufacture of methamphetamine..

John Bruner, of Bruner's Pharmacy in Monett, is of two minds concerning the matter.

"I am rarely in favor of the government being involved, but we see so much of the bad [things] from meth in Barry and Lawrence counties," he said. "I think I'm in favor of them doing it and nipping it in the bud."

Bruner said he was concerned about the added financial impact the measure could have on his customers who are legitimately seeking the medication, as well as the pharmacies stocking it.

"It will put a huge burden on the rest of the population," Bruner said, "with the added cost of a doctor's visit on top of the medicine."

In 2005, Missouri lawmakers mandated that all pharmacies utilize a National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEX), a statewide database used to track the number of pseudoephedrine purchases made by individuals.

"Not all pharmacies have that in place yet," Bruner said. "We're still waiting on the equipment.

"On one hand I'd like to see them give the database a fair shot, say six months or so, to see if it is working," he continued. "On the other hand, with the prescription proposal, that's six months we would have to keep young people from getting addicted to this dangerous drug."

Given the widespread use of methamphetamine in the Barry and Lawrence County areas, Bruner sees the proposal as a good thing.

"Seeing first hand what happens to these kids, I'm in favor of passing the proposal and nipping this in the bud."

Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay is also mixed in his feelings about taking pseudoephedrine off the shelves.

"I don't think the problem has gotten any bigger in Lawrence County," DeLay said. "I have officers taking down one or two labs a week. They're working with various drug task forces and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Adminis-tration).

"Using the NPLEX system is making it easier for law enforcement officials to track purchases of pseudoephedrine," DeLay continued. "What these cooks don't know is that even if a pharmacy isn't online with the NPLEX system as yet, officers still go around picking up the drug logs. It may take us a little longer to track them down, but we're doing it."

The most popular methods of making the drug these days is the "shake and bake" method, using a pop bottle for easy production. The main ingredient is still pseudoephedrine, and although quicker, the mobile labs are far more dangerous than the meth cook making the product in his garage.

DeLay's concern was not only making good use of the automated system and the logs, but giving law enforcement and the judicial system "some teeth" in prosecuting meth cooks.

"We see 200 to 300 people purchasing pseudoephedrine," he said. "Some of those are our people and some are from out of the area who are coming in to buy cold pills. And our people go other places to buy theirs, as well.

"The [NPLEX] system will make a huge difference as well," DeLay continued. "As these labs are exposed, law enforcement will be busting a lot more of these labs."

Making pseudoephedrine available only by prescription would be a large step in making the primary ingredient harder to obtain by those who abuse the medications.

"I'm all for what help we can get in combating the drug side of it. I appreciate the governor and legislature making it harder on the meth cooks," DeLay said. "But I think we'll be punishing the good people, who use the medications legitimately, for what the bad people are doing."

DeLay speculated that a majority of the prisoners in the Lawrence County jail have been involved with the drug.

"Whether they are making it or just took a couple of hits at one time or another, I imagine most of them have had some contact with meth," he said. "You can tell by their teeth, skin and face. It's prevalent out there."

John Luckey, a member of the Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force, is strongly in favor of the proposal.

"Absolutely," he said. "I've been fighting this war for 15 years. I don't see anything happening without removing pseudoephedrine from the shelves."

Luckey said the most popular form of methamphetamine production, "shake and bake" labs, is exploding in southwest Missouri.

"It's easy, it's quick, and if meth cooks want to get around the system, they just find someone who needs $20 or $30 and have them buy [pseudoephedrine,]" he said. "Or they load up a carful of people and go 'smurfing,' where everyone goes into a store and buys the maximum amount they can."

Luckey said it's not only the physical effects of methamphetamine that are dangerous, but the psychological addiction as well.

Meth controls the part of the brain that affects judgment, control reward and control memory. It produces an extreme peak of euphoria that sends the user into a vicious cycle of chasing down the drug to get the extreme high.

"It dominates their thought processes," Luckey said. "Not to mention how it tears up their bodies."

Luckey, an allergy sufferer for several years, believes restricting the availability of pseudoephedrine is the only way to combat the problem on a local level.

"There are alternatives out there for people who need allergy relief," Luckey said. "Or people can go to the doctor for a prescription."

State Representative David Sater, of Cassville, is not in favor of the proposal -- at least for the time being.

"The 2005 bill that required those purchasing pseudoephedrine to sign for it had good intent," Sater said. "But there are not enough law enforcement officials to go around checking signatures every day. The real-time signature tracking program isn't even in effect yet. There has not been enough time to see how it will work."

Sater said that the program can track real time purchases of the product and if an individual tries to purchase more than the allotted amount of cold medications, they would be prohibited from doing so.

Sater is concerned about the potential impact of the proposal on middle and lower class citizens.

"There will be the added cost of having a doctor's visit, and the cost of dispensing the medication as a prescription," Sater said. "We should wait and give the electronic signature system time to work and not penalize the average citizen in the state of Missouri."

Gov. Nixon said his administration will work with legislators to introduce the bill in the upcoming General Assembly to require that pseudoephedrine be obtained only with a valid prescription. The session starts in January. If passed, Missouri would join Oregon and Mississippi as the only states that currently have such a requirement.


Comments
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With pseudoepedrine easily obtained in nearby states without the law restricting it to Rx only, the effect will be slight at best. Meth production is also a preview of economic times in the 4 state area. With fewer jobs that have advancement potential in the area, getting rich quick and easy is a tempting pool to fall into. Meth is so prevalent now in Monett, we see evidence of production in every alley and discarded in front yards. If Monett wants to truly kill this snake, they have to be on it better by using law enforcement effectively, passing city ordinances that hamper the use of residences to be set up as meth labs, pick up those log books and coordinate with other agencies, work more closely with state and federal officials to get effective laws on the books, and help all the law abiding citizens reclaim the town. Meth is everywhere in Monett, and meth is driving businesses and families out of town to get away from it.

-- Posted by one voice on Thu, Dec 9, 2010, at 10:07 AM

I HOPE THIS ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE SYSTEM WORKS,WE LAW ABIDING CITIZENS SHOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY PERSCRIPTION PRICES.CONTRARY TO THE ARTICLE LOCALS ARE NOT FOR THIS NEW LEGISLATION...EVEN THE TIMES OWN POLL SHOWS THAT BY 71%.I FOR ONE WILL NOT BUY PSEUDOEPHEDRINE IF I HAVE TO GET A PERSCRIPTION PERIOD.

-- Posted by Soujerner on Thu, Dec 9, 2010, at 10:12 AM

According to your own poll, this article is inaccurate . . .

What do you think of Govenor Nixon's proposal to make pseudo-ephedrine available by prescription only?

*a. It will greatly reduce meth manufacturing in the state.: 15.2% (10 votes)

*b. It will be very inconvenient to consumers and have little effect.: 71.2% (47 votes)

*c. It will stem local manufacturing of meth but will encourage increased drug traffic through Mexico.: 6.1% (4 votes)

*d. I like to be able to buy cold medicine by the truck load.: 7.6% (5 votes)

66 votes cast

-- Posted by 8isgr8 on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 11:13 AM

Are there any statistics on who is cooking, i.e., Caucasian, Hispanic, Negro, Native American. . . I wonder because of Monett's large Hispanic population.

-- Posted by 8isgr8 on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 11:54 AM

TO 8ISGR8,THIS IS NOT MY POLL,THIS THE TIMES OWN POLL THAT INDICATES MOST FOLKS DO NOT WANT THIS NEW LAW.3/4 SAID THEY LIKE THE LAW IN THE ARTICLE THAT PANTS A PIC THAT DOESN'T REFLECT MOST MISSOURIANS.WE HAVE WHAT 7 STATES THAT BORDER US?METH MAKERS WILL GO ACROSS STATE LINES & BUY.THE NET RESULTS ARE RX PRICES TACKED TO THESE COLD PILLS,WHICH WILL MAKE THEM TO EXPENSIVE FOR A HUGE # OF US.THANK U FOR ASKING THE ? ABOUT RACE.NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT RACE & DRUGS...UNLESS THERE WHITE,THEN IS OK!

-- Posted by Soujerner on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 12:44 PM


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