The Minnesota House, along with support from Governor Pawlenty, will soon consider a bill to help curb the spread of methamphetamine in Greater Minnesota. I am co-authoring this bill because I understand how addictive and dangerous this drug can be.
Often called “poor man’s cocaine,” methamphetamine can destroy a person’s life before he or she even knows it is happening. What makes meth so dangerous is that it can be made by anyone with common household products such as Sudafed and liquid drain cleaner. It can also be produced anywhere, meaning rural, isolated areas like ours are the perfect place to start a meth lab that can go undetected for years.
I will attempt to give you a brief summary of the six ways our bill fights methamphetamine and its effect. If you want more information, you can visit my website, www.house.mn/18B and click on “Bills coauthored.”
Because meth can be so easily made and its ingredients are so readily available, action is necessary to make it harder to produce. Our bill classifies pseudoephedrine, which is the main ingredient in methamphetamine, as a Schedule V drug, making it harder to acquire. Pseudoephedrine is used in cold medicines such as Sudafed and will be kept behind a counter according to our bill. When buying a pseudoephedrine product, a customer will be required to show valid photo identification that states the person’s age and sign for the product. This will ensure minors don’t get a hold of the drug and create a trail of evidence if a person is ever found to posses or make meth. The bill also restricts large purchases of pseudoephedrine which will make it more difficult to accumulate the amount needed to turn into meth.
While taking preventative measures, our meth bill also takes steps against those already using methamphetamine by increasing penalties for various types of possession and manufacturing, sending the strong signal that we will not tolerate these dangerous people in our society.
The last aspect of our bill deals with the burden meth places on local governments and property owners. When a meth lab is exposed by law enforcement, it often leaves serious physical and environmental damage that is expensive to repair. Our bill would force a convicted meth user to pay restitution to the city, county and property owner so that the cost of their addiction is not felt by taxpayers. The bill also creates a lab cleanup loan that can be tapped by cities and counties in situations where restitution is not applicable.
I want to emphasize that the fight against methamphetamine does not and should not start and stop with the legislature. Parents, schools, law enforcement officers and human services personnel all have and important role to play. The good news is communities like ours have recognized the threat of meth and understand the importance of working together to solve this problem. I am confident that the legislature will take steps to pass our bill and that we can all work together to stop the spread of this insidious drug.