State restricts products used to make meth

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11339786608399.jpg’, ”, ‘Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’);

CHICAGO—Taking another major step to protect Illinois communities from a dangerous and highly addictive drug, Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed a new law further restricting the availability of the main ingredient used to make Methamphetamine, or meth.

Senate Bill 273, initiated by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, places more controls on the sale of products like pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, commonly used in cold medicines, which are the essential ingredients in meth.

“Methamphetamine destroys lives, families and entire communities,” Blagojevich said. “By signing this law, we’re making it much harder for meth manufacturers to find the ingredients they need to make meth. We need to do everything we can to fight the scourge of meth—by cutting off the supply of what’s needed to make it, increasing penalties for those who make, sell and use meth, and giving law enforcement officers more resources to fight meth. Today is an important step in the fight.”

Madigan added: “In January 2005, Illinois had one of the toughest laws in the nation when it came to restrictions on the sale and placement of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. However, since that time, our bordering states passed even stricter laws, which made Illinois an attractive target for meth makers looking to buy the ingredients they need to make their drugs.”

As part of her effort to research and draft this bill, Madigan held three law enforcements summits across the state.

“Signing of this legislation into law means that Illinois will never be a weak link in a chain of states working to put meth makers out of business,” Madigan said. “It brings law enforcement and retailers together, in a united front, to make it harder for criminals to complete their shopping lists.”

SB 273, The Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act, was sponsored by Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) and Sen. William Haine (D-Alton). The new law makes pseudoephedrine and ephedrine Schedule V controlled substances, thereby requiring that all products containing those substances be kept behind pharmacy counters or, if a convenience package, in locked cabinets. Customers who wish to purchase those products must be at least 18 years old and show photo identification, as well as sign a log with their name, address, the date and time of the transaction, and a product description. The logs will remain confidential, but must be kept for at least two years, and must be made available to law enforcement upon request.

Additionally, no more than 7,500 milligrams of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine may be purchased in a 30-day period, and no more than two packages of medicines containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine may be purchased at one time.

Retail stores that sell these products will be required to train their employees about these new restrictions. Violation of these controls by a worker is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense, a Class 4 felony for a second offense, and a Class 1 felony for a third or subsequent offense. The store or pharmacy itself would be subject to a $500 fine on the first offense, a $1,000 fine on the second offense within three years at the same location, and a $5,000 fine for the third offense within three years at the same location. Customers who violate the act, including purchasing more than two packages at a time or more than 7,500 milligrams in a month, are subject to a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense, a Class A misdemeanor on the second offense, and a Class 4 felony for a third or subsequent offense.

Meth is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system, and is derived from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, commonly used in cold medicine. Statistics show meth is a growing problem in Illinois. In 1997, the Illinois State Police seized 24 meth labs. By 2004, that number increased substantially to 959. The drug has quickly become the most dangerous and perplexing problem for law enforcement, particularly in central and southern Illinois.

The new law takes effect Jan. 15, 2006.

From the Dec. 7-13, 2005, issue

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