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Archive for Friday, March 25, 2005

House advances bill to prevent methamphetamine production, use

March 25, 2005

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— With the family of slain Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels watching from the floor, the House gave first-round approval Thursday to a bill restricting the sale of a key ingredient in manufacturing methamphetamine.

The bill would apply to tablets of certain cold and allergy medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

The House advanced the bill on a voice vote and expects to take final action today. Senators approved the bill last month but will have to consider changes made by House members.

The new anti-meth law would be named for Samuels, who died Jan. 19 at a home near Virgil where authorities found a suspected meth lab. Scott Cheever, 23, has been charged in federal court on nine charges, including murder.

Samuels' relatives declined to comment after the bill advanced.

Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would allow only pharmacies to sell the targeted ephedrine projects, which would have to remain behind the counter. Customers also would be required to show identification and sign a log.

The House version would also make it illegal for consumers to purchase more than three packages of a product within a week. The Senate's version would make it illegal for merchants to sell more than three packages at a time.

Kyle Smith, spokesman for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said the House bill is better because it would prohibit meth makers from going from store to store in a single day to purchase cold tablets.

Oklahoma enacted a similar bill in 2004, which authorities there have credited with dramatically reducing the number of meth labs seized by law enforcement. Kansas and several other states are considering laws patterned after the Oklahoma language.

"It's not the best way, but we need to do something," said Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe.

Law enforcement agencies reported 583 seizures of meth labs in Kansas in 2004, though that figure is likely low. Four counties -- Allen, Crawford, Cherokee and Cowley -- accounted for about 43 percent of all seizures reported.

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