The Herald Bulletin

March 12, 2013

Editorial: Meth regulations protect the public

The Herald Bulletin

— Dangerous methamphetamine labs continue to flourish all over the United States as makers find easily accessible ingredients to make their highly addictive potions. Last year, police in Indiana shut down 1,429 labs — 140, or one-tenth, of those in Madison County.

It’s a problem for law enforcement because the labs keep cropping up all over the place with no sign of abatement, like Whack-a-Mole. The best way to combat the problem is to cut off access to ingredients, and state legislators are looking at that.

Being pushed by state mayors, a House committee is looking at making medications containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine only available through prescriptions. Those ingredients in common cold medicine are also used in the production of meth. The Indiana Legislature has entertained this idea in the past, but never made those ingredients prescription only because of the perceived hassle of obtaining cold medicine through prescription.

There is some validity to the critics’ objections. Obtaining a prescription requires a doctor’s visit, which would require payment even if the patient just has a cold. On top of the cost, a doctor’s visit could mean lost work time or the need to find a baby sitter.

The proposed law seems to take this into consideration, however. Cold sufferers would be able to purchase 61 grams of medicine containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine without a prescription. Pharmacies would use a tracking system to see who has bought how much. One lawmaker said he doubts anybody would bump into that cap with normal usage.

One thing is certain: Meth production is not going away, and the fact that it has doubled in Indiana over the last few years make it a huge public safety problem. Meth labs are toxic, explosive and the junk that is produced is destroying lives. Legislators need to face the problem and should use all means at their disposal to rid communities of this menace.

Making ephedrine and pseudoephedrine prescription only is a small price to pay to cut down on the scourge of meth. What is proposed is a good start.