Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 18, 2013

State's meth laws are a hodgepodge


ALBION — Goshen-area state legislators have introduced proposed laws to the General Assembly with the intent of making our Hoosier state a better and safer place to live and work. Several of these proposals targeting the illicit production of methamphetamine deserve to be approved by the legislators.

The one we like the most, but the public may not, is House Bill 1063. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse. The legislation would allow local governments to require prescriptions for cold medicines that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

This is a bill that reflects the frustration of many in Indiana that methamphetamine makers can still obtain these ingredients through straw buyers. Indiana’s restriction on the amount of these cold medicines adults can buy every month may have slowed the manufacture of meth, but the meth epidemic continues in northern Indiana. Kosciusko and Elkhart counties are each year at the top or near the top in the state in meth labs found.

It’s obvious to us that additional controls over the ingredients used to make meth are needed. A statewide requirement for prescriptions for these cold medicines is the best answer, However, there is not enough support in the General Assembly, or from the public, to support such a requirement. A law that would allow local governments the option to create a prescription requirements is the next best thing. That way, if the Elkhart or Kosciusko county commissioners or city councils in each county decide that the meth problem has become so pervasive that more controls are needed, they will have that authority.

Kubacki is also a co-author of House Bill 1064, which adds ammonium chloride, potassium iodide and calcium chloride to a list of chemicals that are known precursor substances that are used to make methamphetamine.

Sen. Carlin Yoder of Middlebury has authored Senate Bill 0496, which requires the Indiana State Police to create and maintain a database of people who have been convicted of methamphetamine manufacturing crimes; restricts the purchase of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products to 72 grams per year; and prohibits anyone convicted of making meth from purchasing any pseudoephedrine or ephedrine products for seven years unless they have a prescription. House Bill 1063 from Kubacki lowers the yearly purchase amount of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to just 28.8 grams.

It is clear from these bills that legislators are recognizing that meth use and manufacturing statewide continues to create misery for drug users and their families. The best approach to battling this problem would be a comprehensive statewide policy requiring prescriptions for cold medicines containing the addictive ingredients that are used by meth producers. But until there is public and political will to tackle this issue head-on, we suggest legislators adopt these piecemeal fixes to state laws that have big holes in them.