AG applauds final Senate approval of Meth Lab Prevention Act
Release date: 4/28/2005
Measure will help fight spread of dangerous illegal drug labs, says Cooper
Raleigh: North Carolina can stop its growing meth lab problem before it becomes an epidemic under a new law that passed the N.C. Senate today, Attorney General Roy Cooper said. The Meth Lab Prevention Act, Senate Bill 686, earned Senate approval today by a vote of 41 to 3. The measure, introduced by Senator Walter Dalton, must now earn House approval.
“These deadly drug labs destroy families and communities,” said Cooper. “We’ve got to pass this law now to stop our meth lab problem from turning into a crisis.”
Cooper has pushed for the new law as a way to fight the spread of dangerous meth labs in North Carolina by controlling the sale of key ingredients used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine. The law would require that tablet forms of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, commonly found in over-the-counter cold remedies and needed to make meth, be sold behind a pharmacy counter.
Customers would also need to show a photo ID to purchase cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine. Purchases would be limited to no more than 9 grams of pseudoehpedrine within a 30-day period without a prescription. Liquid and gel products would not be restricted because they aren’t commonly used to produce meth in North Carolina.
Since enacting a similar law last year, Oklahoma has seen an 80 percent drop in meth labs. Earlier this month Lonnie Wright, Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, testified before the Senate Judiciary II Committee about how well the law has worked to reduce meth labs in his state and how consumers and pharmacists there have adapted to the new law without difficulty.
“Law enforcement officials in other states tell us that cutting off criminals’ access to the key ingredient they need to make meth is the only step that has a real impact on this problem,” said Cooper. “Other states are moving ahead. If we don’t push ahead with stricter controls here, North Carolina will find itself behind the curve.”
Several states including Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and Oregon have recently passed bills patterned after the Oklahoma law. Similar measures are under consideration in many other states, including Western and Midwestern states where meth lab busts total in the thousands annually.
Wal-Mart and CVS Corporation both announced this week that they will place pseudoephedrine products behind pharmacy counters in their stores. Target Corporation announced that it would take the same step last week.
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 135 so far this year.
In 2004, 124 children were found living in 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 50 children have been removed from homes where meth was being made.
Along with tougher laws, Cooper is asking lawmakers for 13 more SBI agents to bust meth labs.