April 17, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Lawmakers fail to act on the issue


---- — After several years of fretting over Indiana’s ongoing methamphetamine problem, the Indiana General Assembly continues to struggle for a solution. The issue seems to come up every session, given that Indiana leader the nation in meth lab seizures. But nothing occurs to significantly reduce the problem.

And some sort of impact legislation is needed.

According to a news story by Courier & Press staff writer Chelsea Schneider, in 2013, Indiana led the nation in meth lab seizures. At the same time, Vanderburgh County led the state in the number of seizures with 115.

No question, these numbers reflect the effective work of law enforcement dedicated to curbing the illegal use of methamphetamine, but sadly it reflects as well the disturbing abuse of the drug.

The legislature’s role seems in great part to do with what it can in controlling pseudoephedrine, which is found in common cold medicines and is a key ingredient in meth.

Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, wrote legislation in 2011 to include Indiana in a national tracking system that works to stop the illegal purchase of pseudoephedrine. Yoder thinks the law is adequate — nearly 60,000 boxes were blocked in 2013 — and the state does not need to require prescriptions for pseudoephedrine.

Others, including the Evansville Police Department, disagree with Yoder and believe prescriptions should be required for cold medicines.

State Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Mount Vernon, pushed through legislation to require the disclosure of former meth labs in property sales. And now she is beginning to put together legislation that would work together with the state tracking system and would allow a person to purchase up to two months of pseudoephedrine to cover law-abiding uses. She cites the example of a person getting sick over the weekend and needing cold medicine.

The state would then require a prescription for any subsequent months, once the original supply is used up. She said her proposal would not fully address the issue of “smurfing” when a person purchases pseudoephedrine on behalf of a meth cook, but it would make a dent in the number of times that purchases could be made.

It seems this plan has too many dents in it.

Meanwhile, Indiana State Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville, supports requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine. She said states that have taken control of pseudoephedrine have taken control of their meth problems.

That’s probably the simple truth, and one that needs to be discussed at length; nothing in Indiana has really had a strong influence on curbing the manufacture of meth, other than law enforcement.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, noted that the meth problem becomes bigger year by year, and is something that lawmakers need to address in 2015.

As we said, the simple truth.

— Evansville Courier & Press

THE ISSUE Indiana's methamphetamine problem THEIR VIEW It's something that lawmakers need to address in 2015.