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AG Cooper lauds legislature for enacting strong meth law

Release date: 8/31/2005

Measure mirrors Oklahoma law, puts key meth ingredients behind pharmacy counters

Raleigh: Legislators today approved a new law championed by Attorney General Roy Cooper to fight the spread of meth labs in North Carolina.

“Our communities will be safer because of this tough new law,” Cooper said. “If criminals can’t get the key ingredient, they can’t make this dangerous illegal drug that’s hurting children and families.”

Cooper led the push for a measure to reduce meth labs in North Carolina by cutting criminals’ access to the drug’s key ingredient. The House today voted to concur with a measure adopted by the Senate last week that will place over-the-counter cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, the critical ingredient needed to make meth, behind pharmacy counters.

The legislation adopted by the General Assembly, House Bill 248*, tracks a model law passed last year in Oklahoma that has resulted in an 85 percent drop in meth labs in that state. Cooper first began asking North Carolina legislators in February to put a similar law in place here to fight the rise in meth labs across the state.

North Carolina’s new law will require that all single and multi-source tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine be sold behind a pharmacy counter. Purchasers must be at least 18 years old and show a photo ID and sign a log to buy these products. The law also limits purchases of these products to no more than two packages at once and no more than three packages within 30 days without a prescription.

As under the Oklahoma law, most liquid and gel cap forms of these cold remedies will remain available for sale on store shelves because there have been no meth labs reported in North Carolina where gels and liquids were used. However, North Carolina law goes a step further than Oklahoma and allows the Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services to place restrictions on all liquids and gels. The Attorney General will work with Commission members and law enforcement to determine what restrictions are appropriate as a preventative measure.

North Carolina’s meth problem developed over the past few years, and Cooper has been working to battle the spread of secret drug labs that produce the dangerous drug. In 1999, the first year that meth labs were reported in North Carolina, SBI agents discovered 9 labs. That number has skyrocketed, with agents shutting down 322 labs in 2004 and more than 244 so far this year.

In 2004, 124 children were removed from meth labs in the state. Children in these homes are threatened by toxic chemicals, fire and explosions, and are often neglected or abused. Thus far in 2005, more than 80 children have been removed from homes where meth was being made.