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ILLINOIS METHAMPHETAMINE PRECURSOR CONTROL ACT OFFERS HOPE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST METH LABS

Legislation signed into law in the fall of 2005 will change the way pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are displayed and sold. The bill was drafted by the Office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators. This new law, the Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act (MPCA), will greatly help Illinois in the fight against the spread of methamphetamine.

In 2004, Madigan proposed the Methamphetamine Manufacturing Chemical Retail Sale Control Act (MMCRSCA), an important first step in the fight against meth. That law became effective January 1, 2005, and was one of the strongest laws in the country when it was passed. The MMCRSCA required retailers to place adult-strength cold tablets with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as their sole active ingredient behind store counters or in locked cases.

During 2005, however, all of Illinois’ border states (Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, and Wisconsin) passed even tougher restrictions on pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. The result of tougher restrictions in the states surrounding Illinois was meth-makers coming to Illinois to purchase pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. Law enforcement around the state reported numerous incidents with out-of-state meth makers coming here to purchase pseudoephedrine. Several out-of-state meth makers admitted to law enforcement that it was easier to get pseudoephedrine in Illinois than in their home states so they made regular trips to purchase the meth precursor.

In order to combat the wave of out-of-state meth makers coming to Illinois, and to reduce the number of home-grown meth labs operating in Illinois, Attorney General Madigan introduced the Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act during the 2005 Veto Session of the General Assembly. The MPCA was sponsored by State Representative John Bradley and State Senator William Haine.

Effective January 15, 2006, the MPCA makes pseudoephedrine and ephedrine “schedule V controlled substances,” meaning they must be kept behind pharmacy counters. It requires that all medications that contain any amount of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine in any form be kept behind the pharmacy counter. Customers who want to purchase these products do not need a prescription but they do need to show a government-issued identification card, be at least 18 years of age, and sign a log. Customers purchasing medications containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine can purchase no more than two packages, or 6000 milligrams, at a time and no more than 7500 milligrams in a month.

There is an exception in the law for non-pharmacy retailers to sell convenience packages. The MPCA defines a convenience package as containing 360 milligrams or less of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in liquid or liquid-filled capsule form. Customers may purchase no more than one convenience package per day. The identification, age, and log requirements still apply.

In order to help retailers understand and comply with the law, a series of eight retailer trainings have been scheduled around the state. During the voluntary training, retailers have the opportunity to learn about new restrictions on the way ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products are displayed and sold, obtain materials that allow them to comply with the new law, and ask questions about the purpose and details of the law.

“Illinois again has one of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to restricting access to ingredients used to make meth,” Madigan said of the MPCA. “This law ensures that Illinois is keeping up with the criminals who will go to any length to access the precursors they need to make their drugs.”

Madigan’s bill garnered support from the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Drug Enforcement Officers’ Association, the Illinois Metropolitan Enforcement Group Commanders and Drug Task Force Directors, the Illinois State’s Attorneys’ Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

For additional information, please visit MethNet's Meth Laws and Legislation section.


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