Law officers push for proven meth-reducing measure

Local law enforcement officers and the county prosecutor are looking for more effective ways to fight the Missouri's huge methamphetamine problem.

During this week's Kirksville City Council study session, Adair County Prosecutor Matt Wilson, Sheriff Bob Hardwick, Kirksville Police Chief Jim Hughes and representatives from the Missouri State Highway Patrol made their case for making a key meth ingredient available only by prescription.

In many places, the drug that is found is some cold medications is currently available over the counter.

They asked the city council to consider enacting an ordinance that would require you to have a prescription to obtain pseudoephedrine at pharmacies in Kirksville.

The sheriff says it has worked quite effectively in the 70 some other Missouri communities that have established such an ordinance.

"Law enforcement can't do it all, we can't do it all,â?? said Hardwick. â??There's not enough of us. We can't get enough people in here to combat this problem. It's a problem that's plagued our state, it's plagued our community for a long period of time, and it's time now to do something about it."

The law enforcement officers told the city council that meth also leads to a lot of secondary crimes like theft, burglary, assault, forgery, resisting arrest and domestic assault.

They also said when a community continues selling pseudoephedrine without a prescription, it is like inviting criminals into your community because they get tired of making the drive to your community to get the pseudoephedrine for their meth recipes so they will just move to that community where the drug is readily available over the counter.

Many meth makers even pay family members or friend to go into a pharmacy and buy the pseudoephedrine for them.

That practice is called smurfing, and officials say it is all too common.

One official told the group that in St. Louis, police are seeing the problem of gang members going up to strangers in pharmacy parking lots, giving them a $20 bill to buy a box of pseudoephedrine for them, and they tell them they can keep the change in exchange for the favor.

Law enforcement officers also told the council that the current electronic monitoring system that requires you to sign a form when you buy over-the-counter products containing pseudoephedrine does not work to stop meth labs.

They say that system only helps investigators after the crimes have already been committed.

Council members seemed interested in moving forward with such an ordinance and will be reviewing a draft in the near future.