The world around us here in Evansville and the Tri-State seems to have gone a little nuts over the illegal home-manufactured drug methamphetamine. The availability of ingredients, the simplified method of making it, and the powerful high it creates makes it easily the drug of choice for users — and a genuine danger to families, friends and neighbors. Indeed, it seems to be everywhere; in November, a middle class Warrick County subdivision saw one of its homes burn after a suspected methamphetamine lab exploded in the garage.
This recent surge is tied not only to the availability of a key ingredient, the over-the-counter cold medication pseudoephedrine, but to a method of manufacturing methamphetamine called “one-pot.” It has allowed its makers to move from rural settings required because of larger equipment and the noxious odor, to city locales as small as cars and apartments.
In a report published on Jan. 22 by Courier & Press staff writer Arek Sarkissian II, we learned that at least 113 meth labs were reported to local law enforcement in 2011, and the figure could go higher as final tabulations are made. Even more shocking was Sarkissian’s description of a walk with police officers specializing in meth suppression along railroad tracks south of Oak Hill Cemetery. Within an hour, they found 19 mini-labs left behind. What to do?
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke has come out in support of legislation that would give local governments the authority to make pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug, and it has the support of several area lawmakers, including State Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, who was involved in writing the bill. On today’s Viewpoint page, readers will find a Community Comment by State Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Goshen, who opposes making it a prescription drug.
Instead, Yoder last year authored a law requiring the use of technology which allows real-time checks of whether the shopper has exceeded the legal limit for purchasing the cold medicine over the counter.
We suspect Yoder’s district has not experienced the craziness that the meth epidemic has brought down on Southwestern Indiana. Rarely does a day go by that the Courier & Press does not have a news story on the discovery of a meth lab or an arrest involving meth.
Frankly, we never though we would see the day when we would suggest here that the law make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase medications, but that is what it has come to.
Critics of this proposal make two points: It punishes the innocent who would need to see a doctor to get a prescription and it would not completely stop conniving meth makers from scoring pseudoephedrine. Of course, neither would the electronic checking system. Also, it punishes the innocent to have meth makers and users running around our neighborhoods, risking life and property.
Bottom line: Extraodinary problems sometimes require extraordinary solutions.