Koster cracks down on Meth
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Koster cracks down on Meth

Date: January 31, 2008
By: Bria Scudder and Rebecca Beitsch
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 1063

JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Chris Koster, D-Harrisonville and candidate for attorney general, proposed a bill Thursday to attack methamphetamine use and production from several angles.

"We need an approach that addresses methamphetamines on a criminal justice front, on the educational front and on the treatment front," he said.

The bill that was filed Thursday morning would require mandatory substance abuse treatment for anyone convicted of possession of meth as well as a potential child endangerment charge if a user shares his or her home with children.

"You'll never have to worry about lipstick on your teeth again," read a poster next to Sen. Koster that was cropped to show only a young girl's mouth, her lips chapped and blistered with blood, her teeth crooked and rotting. All this is the result of persistent methamphetamine use.

This poster would be only a small part of the bill's effort in a meth education project, which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of the drug and hinder its use.  

Koster said he hopes to stop the drug's use by monitoring sales of pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in many sinus and cold medications. If enacted, this would require people to provide identification in addition to their name, address and date of birth.

Pharmacists or dispensers of the drug would be required to record this information along with the quantity of the drug dispensed, the source of payment for the drug in addition to other information.

Currently pharmacists must keep products containing pseudoephedrine must remain behind the counter. There is a limit on how much one can purchase, and they must show a photo ID. All this is recorded in a paper log.

One pharmacist said the additional requirements Koster's bill would require would not be difficult to implement since they are the same as existing requirements for prescription drugs. Pharmacists would be required to follow the same procedures for drugs containing pseudoephedrine as for filling a standard prescription, said Bill Morrissey, pharmacist and co-owner of Kilgore's Medical Pharmacy in Columbia.  

Koster's bill would also enact harsher penalties for those who deal meth, as well as providing more funds to law enforcement to attract and maintain staff.

Koster said rural areas are partially responsible for the increase in meth use.

Capt. Tim Hull of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said, "Rural areas are harder to detect because there aren't as many people to see them coming and going."

Hull said anhydrous ammonia, used as a fertilizer, and iodine crystals, used in handling farm animals, are also used in making meth.

"For the first time, this legislation proposes mandatory minimum sentencing in the area of methamphetamines production," he said.

Although there has been legislation to control the use of meth, it is a continuing struggle to get it off the streets.

"Criminals don't have anything to do but sit around and figure out how to get around laws," Hull said. "You've got a very addictive drug that's cheaper than a lot of the other drugs... the high lasts a lot longer."

Many methamphetamine producers will visit several stores in one day, knowing they can only get two bottles of Sudafed at each store.

"They go to Kilgore's, then to Walgreens, then to D & H (Prescription Drug Store). They have their cohorts do the same." Morrissey said pharmacies will call each other to give warning of suspicious characters, but said that computerized central record keeping would make it much easier to avoid selling pseudoephedrine to the frequent buyers.