State to track the makings for meth
BY SHANNON MCFARLAND January 20, 2012 8:22PM
Updated: February 22, 2012 8:08AM
Buying a package of allergy medicine at the corner drugstore will put you in a state police database under a new Illinois law aimed at identifying people who make methamphetamine.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure into law Friday, saying a pilot project in southern Illinois has helped police tracking sales of medicines that can be used to make meth has helped police crack down.
The goal is to watch for large purchases of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are found in some cold, allergy and sinus medicines such as Claritin-D and certain Sudafed products.
Stores already keep the products behind the counter to guard against theft and record who buys them. Now stores will transmit those records electronically to state police. The information sent to authorities will include the customer’s name and address.
The tracking program started as a pilot project in 2009 in several southern Illinois counties. Since then, police have found and seized 155 meth labs and made 231 arrests thanks to the pilot project, Quinn said.
“This program is a valuable tool that helps us prevent meth from getting into our communities by stopping production,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.
Monique Bond, a state police spokeswoman, said “tracking details” for the new statewide database are still being worked out.
The Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association praised the legislation. Sara Moscato Howe, head of the association, said meth users are often paranoid so they might be scared away from buying the ingredients if they know police are monitoring sales.
She warned that catching people who make meth is only a first step. They also need help getting off drugs and staying off. She said spending on state anti-drug programs has been cut 30 percent since 2007.
“If you don’t treat these people, they don’t go away. They show up in your hospitals and prisons,” Howe said. “The cheapest option is to prevent addiction before it starts.”
Under the new law, stores must continue blocking sales if a person tries to buy more than 7.5 grams of pseudoephedrine in 30 days - or more than a month’s supply of 24-hour Claritin-D for a single person.