News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 27, 2013

EDITORIAL: Grinding on against meth

New proposal tightens screws, but will it help?


The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Despite sincere efforts from legislators in recent sessions of the General Assembly, manufacturing and use of methamphetamine remain a scourge on communities in many pockets of Indiana.

Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley have been fighting meth for more than a decade. Progress has been made. Enforcement has improved, as has awareness about the dangers of using this drug. Numerous meth lab busts over the years put pressure on manufacturers, and the principal meth ingredient, pseudoephedrine, is more difficult to acquire in quantities needed.

Still, the problem persists. People who are intent on getting access to meth ingredients find ways to do so. Loopholes in the law governing distribution of common medications containing pseudoephedrine are found and exploited.

The legislature has again been asked to crack down, and we’re pleased it’s responding. The House and Senate have approved tighter limits on quantities consumers can purchase of cold and allergy pills used to make methamphetamine.

The bill would limit the annual purchase of pseudoephedrine-based products to about 61 grams a person. That’s about an eight-month supply of the current law’s monthly limit.  

Controlling meth ingredients has been a difficult balancing act for lawmakers. They know they need to make it more difficult for meth makers to obtain medications without penalizing those who need them for legitimate health reasons.

Other states have taken the more drastic step of requiring a doctor’s prescription for pseudoephedrine-based medicine, and a number of Hoosier law-enforcement professionals and local elected officials have been urging lawmakers to take that step as well. But Indiana has thus far been unwilling to go that far.

While we suspect it will take the more aggressive step of making pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug to rein in meth once and for all, doing so would likely have an adverse impact on both individuals and businesses. We understand the legislature’s caution.

We urge the governor to sign the proposal tightening the limits on purchases of certain medications. And we encourage lawmakers to keep an open mind concerning further action if this fails to achieve the desired result.