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Ind. unlikely to make cold meds prescription-only

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm •  Published: March 9, 2013

Those states have seen huge drops in meth lab seizures, with Oregon having nine and Mississippi having five last year, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Indiana had 1,429 meth lab incidents reported by police last year — trailing only Missouri and Tennessee.

Yoder's bill would also increase the criminal penalties for a person convicted of buying 10 grams or more of the medications and then providing it to a meth maker. The proposal would make that action — known as "smurfing" — punishable by two to eight years in prison.

Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, and a few other lawmakers introduced bills this year seeking to require prescriptions for the pseudoephedrine-based medications. Those bills didn't advance, and Kubacki said she didn't expect enough lawmakers agreed with her yet to take that step.

Kubacki said the constant discovery of meth labs in many rural communities hurts their ability to attract new residents and businesses and burdens local governments with many expenses.

"The cost to an individual for what they'd pay for pseudoephedrine is nothing compared to what we're paying to put these people in jail, then deal with their horrible physical problems, those kids who are put in social services at taxpayer expense," she said. "The taxpayer pays tenfold what you would for making one doctor visit."

State police estimate that the average cleanup cost for a meth lab is about $2,280, not including costs for social service agencies, jail time or medical care, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

Winnecke, the Evansville mayor, said he supported the tighter limits included in the current legislative proposal. He said didn't expect the Legislature to agree on requiring pseudoephedrine prescriptions this year but that it was important for local officials to continue explaining the situation they face.

"If we don't have meth labs to run down, (police) can do more intervention work, they could do more investigative work," he said. "We could deploy those resources in other ways that still battle drug problems."

Kubacki said she expects support for tougher anti-meth measures to continue to grow in the Legislature — including for pseudoephedrine prescription requirements.

"I'll bring it back next year," she said. "Because I can guarantee we'll have more meth addicts next year, we're going to have more children taken out of homes and we're going to have more houses burned."