Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Meth Law Sometimes Difficult to Enforce

WISH Indianapolis

Police say the smoke drifting from roof of a home recently ended up being no ordinary house fire. They say the homeowners were brazenly cooking crystal meth - brazen because the location of their meth lab was next door to the Clermont police station.

Police say it’s an example of the scale of Indiana's meth problem, a problem that prompted legislators to pass a law limiting the sale of products containing ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine, common ingredients in cold medicines.

"It was an explosion that was hurting people and killing people of this illegal drug that they were commonly finding at our stores at a cheap cost and they were able to produce that at very little expense," said Sen. Michael Young (R-District 35).

The new law mandates that consumers must be 18, no more than 3 grams or about 100 pills can be sold in one transaction, the purchaser must show ID and complete a log and drugs with ephedrine and pseudoephedrine must be stored behind the pharmacy counter.

But what if the store has no pharmacy, like convenience stores? They can sell small packages containing 4 or fewer pills with fewer than 120 milligrams of ephedrine. Only one package per sale and the packages must be stored in sight of the clerk, be constantly monitored and a log must be filled out with each purchase.

In a recent bust in Johnson County, sheriff's deputies sited six clerks for violating the new law.
Trina Arthur was one of hem. She sold two convenience store packages to an undercover detective. She was supposed to sell only one.

"Well then, they’d better come up with a better system. A convenience store just can't do it. There's just no way," said Arthur, who adds that the law is confusing and that clerks are given little training.

"They showed us the paperwork that we had to fill out. That was July first," she said. Arthur said she’s received no training since.

Arthur is likely not alone. 24-Hour News stopped at a convenience store in Marion County. Our intern bought two packages of double action ephedrine, a total of 750 milligrams, more than six times the amount she should have been able to buy in one transaction.

Legislators believe the product needs to be available at convenience stores. "What do you do at 11:00 and you can't find a pharmacy that's open - rural areas especially? So we tried to take care of the problem and still make it accessible," said Sen. Young.

Although legislators admit the law needs some tweaking, they insist it's working. They say meth arrests are down 45 percent since the law was passed.

by Deanna Dewberry


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