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Record SD Meth Numbers Prompt Proposal

January 6, 2014, 9:22 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Record SD Meth Numbers Prompt Proposal

A record-breaking amount of meth was seized in South Dakota last year.

Authorities confiscated nearly 80 pounds of the drug through December 1, 2013. That shatters the old record of 48 pounds set in 2012.

The increase is largely due to the popularity of the one-pot method of making the dangerous drug.

"Technology has allowed the process to be much more simple and easier to manufacture with lesser amounts. Often times someone in the personal use of methamphetamine is also involved in manufacturing for that personal use," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said.

Sioux Falls found many meth cooks in 2013 using this method of combining the cold medicine pseudoephedrine, fertilizer and lithium from batteries in pop bottles to make the drug.

Jackley says the popularity of this process combined with an increased effort by law enforcement resulted in South Dakota seeing a record amount of meth arrests and seizures in 2013.

"It is also attributable to the increased use of methamphetamine; that if it's easier to make, it's easier to have access to it," Jackley said.

Jackley wants to make it harder for meth users to make the drug, so he's proposing legislation that will set up a new electronic database to track the sale of pseudoephedrine. Right now, some South Dakota pharmacies track purchases on paper through monthly logs, but the method has proven to be ineffective as meth numbers spike.

"I think we saw those numbers drop the first few years after the law was passed (to track pseudoephedrine purchases) but now we're steadily seeing an increase. So I think pharmacists feel we have a responsibility to react to that," South Dakota Pharmacists Association Executive Director Sue Schaefer said.

Officials hope an electronic system called National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLex, could help catch offenders in the act because as meth cooks go from store to store to buy the two boxes of pseudoephedrine allowed per transaction under South Dakota law, their name would already be in the system.

"They'll know in real time whether they've already accessed another drug store in the neighborhood," Schaefer said.

And by tracking purchases more quickly, authorities hope they can cut down the record-breaking meth numbers.

North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa are three of the 29 states that are already tracking purchases electronically.

Jackley says drug companies will pay for the system. He plans to propose the changes during the upcoming legislative session that starts next week.

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