Sheriffs push for meth ingredient registry

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Police in Virginia successfully lobbied for a state database that would track the purchase of pseudoephedrine, a main component of methamphetamine.

By Staff Reports

RICHMOND — In response to the growing methamphetamine problem in Virginia, the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, backed by Virginia’s law enforcement officers, pharmacists and other supporters, called on the General Assembly this year to pass Senate Bill 14.
This bill was aimed at curbing the production of methamphetamine by electronically monitoring the sales of nonprescription drugs, like pseudoephedrine, used to manufacture the illegal stimulant.
The bill was incorporated into another piece of legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.
The legislation preserves consumer access to cold and allergy medications.
Currently, pharmacies and drugstores record sales of pseudoephedrine — commonly used in over-the-counter decongestants like Sudafed and Claritin — on written logs and report them to various databases.
The new law will put most of these retailers under one electronic pseudoephedrine sales tracking system called the National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLEx, in order to restrict customers from buying more than the legal limit of these medications.
“NPLEx will be very beneficial to localities,” said Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan. “We will be able to enter names of local citizens who are suspected of manufacturing meth into the database, and NPLEx will send investigators an e-mail alerting them to the recent purchase of precursors. This information can then be used to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s residence.”
Vaughan said the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association strongly urged passage of the bill.
NPLEx will be a multi-state electronic pseudoephedrine (PSE) sales blocking system that is funded by the manufacturers of medicines containing PSE.
It will be provided to retailers at no charge, and eliminates the need for retailers to keep paper logs, which the sheriffs’ association called “onerous and burdensome.”
NPLEx will monitor all non-prescription PSE purchases in real time to prevent criminals from exceeding legal limits.
 Nineteen states use NPLEx and three of Virginia’s border states use NPLEx — Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
NPLEx allows the state to keep sales tax generated by over-the-counter PSE sales.
“This is a great technological tool that will assist law enforcement in the war on drugs,” Vaughan said.