Prescription laws may be helping cut number of meth lab busts

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(KTVI) - Missouri may no longer be number one when it comes to meth labs.

“You are looking at the State of Missouri finally getting out of the number one position after more than a decade of dominating that position, to second and maybe even third,” said Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the narcotics unit for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

You’ll get no argument that the downward trend is good, but when it comes to the reasons for it,  opinions differ.

Grellner believes it’s largely because of an increase in the number of communities making it illegal to buy pseudoephedrine without a prescription.

The ingredient, used in sinus medicine, is also used to make methamphetamine.

“When you are seeing 68 and 70 percent drops in 14 counties in southeast Missouri, it has an overall effect on the state,” Grellner said.

Counties in the St. Louis area with the prescription requirement have also seen a drop in meth busts between 2012 and 2013.

In Franklin County, there has been a 41 percent decrease. In Jefferson County, the number is down 47 percent.

Statewide the number has dropped by 38 percent.

But some who oppose the prescription requirement say they are not convinced the decreases are entirely the result of the prescription laws.

“I think we have to give credit to the electronic tracking system that is presently in place when someone goes to buy pseudoephedrine,” said Joy Krieger, Executive Director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, St. Louis Chapter.

“I (also) think police deserve a lot of credit for perhaps getting an edge here in identifying repeat offenders and being on top of that,” Krieger said.

But Grellner says in communities where pseudoephedrine can still be bought over the counter, including St. Louis City and St. Louis County, the number of meth busts has generally been going up over the past few years.

He doesn’t expect things to change anytime soon, “Every time we try something in St. Louis City or St. Louis County, we are met by opposition from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association who seems to be five steps ahead of us,” Grellner explained.

“They are always there with more money. They are always there with more lobbying. They are always there with this parade of horribles of what it is going to happen if you pass this, that never happen,” Grellner said.

Meanwhile, State Senator David Sater, (R) District 29, has pre-filed a bill in the legislature that would restrict pseudoephedrine sales to the equivalent of a 30-day supply.

If passed, Sater says it would apply in both St. Louis City and St. Louis County, which has no prescription requirement, but that it would not supersede more stringent requirements already passed in other communities.

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