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Senator Montford To Battle Meth Epidemic Law enforcement officials, area judges talk straight about this drug problem that costs everyone.

When Senator Bill Montford kicked back on his Marianna office sofa Monday afternoon to hear from sheriffs, judges, and drug investigators from around the region, he knew very little about meth other than the fact it is a problem. An hour later, Montford had been painted a clear portrait depicting all things evil about this drug: How it’s made, the way it destroys once productive citizens and the hefty cost every single taxpayeris spending to clean up the toxic mess it leaves behind. Senator Montford assembled those in the know to find out what he and his counterparts in Tallahassee can do to help fix what’s wrong and attempt to legally battle a drug that is different than any other ever experienced in our region. Requiring a prescription to purchase pseudoephedrine – sinus medication purchased over the counter – was one suggestion. “They can not make [meth] without pseudoephedrine,” Calhoun County Sheriff David Tatum explained. “You control that, you control meth.” As part of the nationwide “Meth Watch” program, anyone purchasing pseudoephedrine must produce a driver’s license which is scanned at purchase. A limited amount of pseudoephedrine is allowed every few days. Law enforcement receives a list of buyers and excessive purchases raise red flags. Thus, a black market has evolved with buyers securing pseudoephedrine for around $5 a box, then selling that same box to a meth producer for $50. Jackson County Sheriff Lou Roberts told Montford how he sat outside a Marianna drug store one day and watched as car after car stopped in the parking lot and the occupants took turns going into the store to acquire the cold medication. “One store sold 96 packages in a day,” he remarked. Some states have found success in requiring prescriptions. However, there is concern that this would drive up health care costs as those with common sinus problems would be required to take off workfor a doctor’s visit to acquire a presciption. On the flip side, the costs for shutting down meth labs, filled with toxic chemicals, is astronomical. “A small lab costs around $5000 each,” said Sheriff Tatum. Sheriff Roberts estimated some of his larger labs in Jackson County absorb $15,000 in clean up expenses. In the past, the Department of Environmental Protection provided funding for meth lab waste removal, but authorities report those funds have been depleted. Another concern is the health risk a meth lab poses not only to the user, but to innocent children in the home and even neighbors. Sheriff Roberts said a family in an apartment complex had respiratory problems for months before learning an upstairs neighbor was cooking meth above them. In addition, officers walking in homes to bust meth labs are in danger. “I’ve got officers every day putting their lives on the line,” said Sheriff Roberts, noting that meth labs will blow up, fumes are inhaled and the physical issues that may follow in years to come remain to be seen. Judge Kevin Grover has done extensive research on what is working in other states. Check out next week’s edition for details on his findings and more on Montford’s meth meeting.

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