New law will track meds statewide

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 12, 2010

The production or use of methamphetamines is not new to Covington County; however, a new law passed Wednesday will require all ephedrine and pseudoephederine products sold to customers in Alabama to be logged into an electronic database.

Under House Bill 528, the computerized system will modernize logs that are currently kept on paper, making it possible to restrict excessive purchases and provide instant tracking for law enforcement.

Under the new law, the database would be established in which every pharmacy or retailer selling ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products – key ingredients used to make meth – requiring them to enter the purchaser’s identifying information into an electronic database prior to any sale.

The database would then notify the seller if the purchaser had exceeded his or her daily or monthly limit for such purchases.  Information in the database would be shared with law enforcement agencies statewide.

It’s that information local Drug Task Force agents believe will “go a long way” in halting both the production and use of methamphetamine locally.

“I think we’re going to see pseudoephedrine sales go way down in Covington County, because of the new regulations,” said DTF agent Chris Byrd. “Meth makers have to have it to cook meth. There’s no getting around that, but with an electronic database that goes statewide, it’s going to be very beneficial to law enforcement. For example, if someone from here goes to north Alabama to buy their pills, we’re not going to know it.

“The one database will show purchases throughout the state,” he said. “When you’re at your limit, you’re cut off. If you go over, we know where to look.”

Byrd said purchases are limited to 6 grams per month per person. When translated into boxes of cold medicine, Byrd said the number differs depending on milligrams found in the pills.

“You have some brands that have one gram per box, others with two,” he said. “But if you go to the store or stores and buy 10 boxes of pseudoephedrine, there’s something going on, and it’s not that you’re sick.”

Byrd said over the years, “meth users and meth makers have used some of the same techniques we’re using. They’ve modified the way they’re getting these drugs to stay clear of the law. Hopefully, with this new law, that’s not going to happen any more.”

Byrd said the law goes into effect January 2011.