Governor pledges to fight to reduce meth production

Missouri has had more than 1,000 cases of meth-related incidents this year.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced last week he is working toward passing legislation to hinder the production of methamphetamine.

The new law would require everyone to have a prescription to buy cough medicine containing pseudoephedrine, which is the major ingredient in meth.

“The only way you can kill a snake is by cutting its head off, and truly PSE (pseudophedrine) is the head and root of the meth problem in our state, and we desperately need this legislation to fight and win this battle,” Col. Ron Replogle, Superintendent of Missouri State Highway Patrol, said in a video from Missouri Department of Public Safety.

Oregon and Mississippi have enacted this law with almost immediate results, Replogle said. Both states have seen a dramatic decrease in reported incidents of meth production.

Boone County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Tom Reddin said there was an attempt last year to pass similar legislation that did not go through, despite Missouri’s meth problem.

Missouri has the largest amount of meth labs of any state, but overall does not produce the most meth in the country, Reddin said.

“A lot of the labs are mom and pop labs that produce small amounts,” he said.

According to highway patrol’s website, there have been 1,242 meth incidents in Missouri this year. This includes the seizure of operational laboratories, equipment and dumpsites.

“They are a danger to the community around them,” Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Jessie Haden said. “They are combustible. They can explode. They’re toxic and they make people paranoid and violent. It affects communities on all levels.”

Despite the results from Oregon and Mississippi, Haden said she is doubtful the legislation will make the police officers’ jobs easier. Haden said preventing PSE from being sold is just one small part of a larger situation.

People who attempt to get around state laws to further drug production and sales will probably increase in Missouri, Haden said.

“Cough syrups are just a tool in part of a bigger situation,” Haden said. “You can stop some, but not everybody. More drugs could come from Mexico.”

One tool in the fight against meth production is an electronic database that Nixon backed a few weeks ago. It keeps track of everyone who is currently using cough medicine in over half of Missouri’s pharmacies.

This, coupled with the new legislation, could make obtaining the medicine challenging for people who need it, Reddin said.

“It hasn’t even been given a chance yet,” Reddin said. “It could cause potential conflicts with law-abiding citizens if they have to get a script from a doctor every time.”

Regardless of the electronic database, Nixon will continue to push for pseudoephedrine restrictions in 2011.

“It is time for Missouri to take the oxygen out of the fire, and let there be no doubt that pseudoephedrine is the oxygen feeding the methamphetamine fire in our state,” Attorney General Chris Koster said in the video.

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