News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 9, 2013

STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: It will take drastic act by General Assembly to end Indiana’s meth scourge

INDIANAPOLIS — Police and prosecutors fighting the meth epidemic won a small victory recently, when the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the use of an electronic registry that tracks the legal sale of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in methamphetamine.

The appeals court ruled that information in the registry, the National Precursor Log Exchange, could be used as evidence under the “business record exception” to the hearsay rule, which otherwise excludes testimony or documents that quote people not in court.  

It was a victory because of the critical role the registry plays in Indiana’s efforts to curb meth: Investigators use it to find “smurfers” – people who get paid by meth makers to go from one pharmacy to the next to buy pseudoephedrine-containing cold medicine.  

In that case that went to the appeals court, information in the registry was used to build a drug-dealing case against a 24-year-old southern Indiana man who was part of family meth-making operation, cooking up the chemically volatile, highly addictive drug in their home.

But I also use the word “small” to describe the legal victory’s impact on what can only be called a scourge, if you define that word, as Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary does: “A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war.”

You can measure the dreadful damage in any number of ways:

By the millions of public and private dollars spent on cleaning up toxic meth labs, including $17 million spent just by Indiana State Police since 1995.

Or by the record 1,726 meth lab busts made by the Indiana State Police last year — more than twice the busts made by ISP in 2006.

Or by the average cost of a hospital stay of a meth patient, most of them uninsured, injured when their home-grown meth lab bursts into flames: $130,000, according to an Associated Press study last year of the most active meth states which, sadly, includes Indiana.

Or by the horrifying number of children found by police busting the clandestine meth labs in bedrooms, basements and backyards throughout Indiana. In 2012 alone, there were 372 of them, including the 2-year-old son of that defendant in the Court of Appeals case. Many of those children tested positive for meth, having been exposed to it just by breathing in the chemical fumes produced when their caretakers were cooking up the drug.

Or we could measure it by the countless police reports that frighteningly mirror the fictional meth-maker Walter White on TV’s “Breaking Bad.” In that Court of Appeals case, police who found that 2-year-old also found a laptop computer which showed the last Internet searches made on it before the bust: “how to manufacture methamphetamine” and “how to silently kill someone.”

Almost every year since 2005, the Indiana General Assembly has debated legislation aimed at restricting access to the cold medicines that contain meth’s primary precursor. And each time it passes a new law tightening those restrictions, legislators hail it as the right fix.

This year is no different: They rejected a measure favored by the Indiana State Police and mayors of the most scourge-ravaged communities that would have returned pseudoephedrine to its long-ago controlled status, requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy it. They approved a bill, favored by cold-medicine makers and many legitimate users, that instead further limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a consumer can buy over the counter, to what amounts to about an eight-months supply.

I’m allergy-suffering, legitimate user of pseudoephedrine and go nowhere without it, but I’m willing to risk my eight-months supply on a sure bet: Absent some drastic action by the General Assembly, I’ll be reading and writing about clandestine meth labs and 2-year-olds in harm’s way for years to come.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Raw: Black Boxes of Downed Jetliner Turned Over Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Recording May Show Attempt at Crash Cover-up 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' Raw: Gaza City Shelling Attack Bull Run Comes to Middle America
NDN Video
Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity