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VIEWPOINT : Fighting For A Meth-Free Indiana

Methamphetamine is a drug epidemic spreading throughout the Midwest at an alarming rate. In 2013, Indiana led the nation in meth lab seizures with a total of 1,797 busts.

Meth production is changing. Today, a typical Indiana meth lab is not a lab at all. The majority of meth is being made in the kitchen of small homes, producing about a gram of meth using plastic, two-liter bottles. While the number of lab seizures may be high, the amount of meth being domestically produced and sold on the streets has lowered.

There are a number of measures being taken to combat the ever-changing world of meth production and prevent this problem from growing larger.

Pseudoephedrine is found in many popular over-the-counter decongestant medicines, but it is also the key ingredient of methamphetamine. In the past, I authored legislation that brought the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) to Indiana, which tracks meth criminals by blocking unlawful pseudoephedrine purchases at the counter.

The NPLEx system has proven to be a very effective tool for law enforcement officials. Last year, 60,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine were blocked from being sold illegally, which resulted in almost 132,000 grams of pseudoephedrine off the streets. All drug and convenience stores in Indiana are required to use NPLEx to track pseudoephedrine sales.

The legislation also limits the amount of pseudoephedrine on individual purchases within a certain time frame, and makes “smurfing,” or buying pseudoephedrine on behalf of a meth cook, a class C felony. Anyone previously convicted of a meth-related crime that possesses ephedrine without a prescription for up to seven years after their conviction will be subject to a class D felony.

Law enforcement is now able to better track pseudoephedrine purchases while maintaining the drug’s over-the-counter status, so there is no burden on law-abiding Hoosiers who rely on pseudoephedrine-based medicine when they are sick.

Other states have taken the NPLEx registry a step further. In 2012, Oklahoma adopted a meth offender block list, which will work with the state’s electronic tracking system to prohibit individuals convicted of meth-related crimes from being able to purchase pseudoephedrine-based medicines without a prescription for 10 years after conviction. Since then, the state has seen a 50 percent decline in meth labs. This year, Michigan passed similar legislation.

It is important for all states to work together in this battle. Next session, I plan to introduce a bill that will implement a meth offender block list in Indiana.

The measures taken by the General Assembly and Indiana’s law enforcement agencies have been extremely effective, but Indiana’s meth problem is still unacceptable. I plan to continue fighting for a safer, meth-free Indiana.

State Sen. Carlin Yoder of Middlebury is a Republican who represents Indiana Senate District 12.