Curry: Statewide database stalls meth productionPublished 11:49am Monday, September 30, 2013
By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer
COLUMBIANA – Local officials responsible for monitoring and preventing the spread of methamphetamine abuse within the county gathered at Davis Drugs in Columbiana Sept. 30 to discuss steps being taken to address the issue.
Sen. Slade Blackwell, Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens all made mention of a statewide database that helps prevent methamphetamine abuse by limiting the amount of ephedrine, a key ingredient in meth, that individuals can purchase monthly.
Blackwell said Alabama was one of the first states to launch an “anti-smurfing” campaign last year, or a campaign against people who buy medicines containing ephedrine only to turn that into meth. Blackwell, a member of the Senate Health Committee, was one of several senators who helped make this a felony in Alabama.
“We’re all working together to try to make our county safer,” Blackwell said.
Curry said the work his office does “on the ground” would not be possible without the support of the legislature and the new legislation.
“Under the old system, it was very difficult for us to keep up with (illegal drug production),” Curry said.
Under the new system, anyone buying medicines containing ephedrine is required to show a valid ID, which is then swiped and entered into a statewide database. Pharmacies can only dispense 7.5 grams of the ingredient per month per individual, Owens said.
“The method of producing meth is becoming simpler and more mobile,” Curry said. “If we can limit access to the necessary ingredients (of meth), then we can affect the quantity of production.”
Owens said another key was to prevent people from crossing state lines to purchase ephedrine for substance abuse. New laws require in-state prescriptions for those ingredients, Owens said.
“We think we have a good law,” Owens said. “We have a law that allows people to buy the drugs they need if they do so honestly.”
Davis Drugs pharmacist and owner Jim Davis also weighed in on the issue. He said pharmacists now have options when they suspect a person may be purchasing medicines for meth production.
“(The database) is simple to use and it offers immediate confirmation as to whether the sale exceeds the monthly allowed amount,” Davis said.