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Pickett Applauds Passage of Bill to Track Meth Ingredients in Real Time
3/20/2013

HARRISBURG – In an effort to more efficiently and effectively monitor the sales of meth ingredients and catch illegal purchases more quickly, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) has cast her vote in favor of legislation that would track purchases of precursor substances in real time.

House Bill 602, of which Pickett is a co-sponsor, would allow for real-time tracking of potentially illegal sales and purchases of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, two key and accessible ingredients to cook meth.

“The Northern Tier has been a hot bed for meth production and trafficking for a number of years because our location makes it easier to disguise meth labs, among other factors,” said Pickett. “The ingredients to make meth are commonly found in legal and otherwise useful products, like cold and allergy medicine. We, in no way, want to discourage people from lawfully using these medicines.

“However, when someone walks into a pharmacy or grocery store and purchases 20 containers of cold medicine, that’s justifiably suspicious and illegal under federal law,” Pickett continued. “Right now, we are not taking advantage of available technology to track these potentially illegal purchases in real time – which is critical in the fight against meth.”

State and federal laws presently limit the amount of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine (PSE) consumers can purchase.

With House Bill 602, Pennsylvania would be able to apply that technology through the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) program, a multi-state electronic sales tracking and blocking system funded by the manufacturers of medicines containing PSE. This system allows law enforcement, as well as retailers that sell medicines containing PSEs, to track purchases made in Pennsylvania and in all participating states so that meth cooks can’t skirt the system by crossing the border to another state to make their purchase.

“This legislation is especially important to our region, as people can easily cross into New York and make purchases at multiple stores in order to obtain the quantity of PSE they need to produce meth, and by the time the information gets back to law enforcement, the deed is done,” Pickett said. “This real-time tracking is an important tool for both retailers and law enforcement.”

House Bill 602 further states that retailers may not sell, and individuals may not purchase, more than 3.6 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine base contained in a product or combination of products per day; and more than 9 grams per 30-day period. Additionally, consumers would not have direct access to non-prescription products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

Consumers would still need to present valid government-issued photo identification for such a purchase. When purchasing these products, they would not notice a change from current practice. The difference would be that the pharmacist would enter information about the purchase into the NPLEx database so real-time information is available to the pharmacist and to law enforcement. That information would include the name and address of the purchaser; name and quantity of the product purchased; date and time of purchase; and purchaser identification type and number, such as driver’s license state and number, and the purchaser’s signature in a logbook.

Pickett has been involved for several years in the fight against meth. In 2004, she authored Act 143, which makes the theft of anhydrous ammonia – a substance used in the production of meth – a second-degree felony and increases penalties to a maximum $25,000 fine and imprisonment up to 10 years.

House Bill 602 now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

Representative Tina Pickett
110th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
(717) 705-2094
jkeaton@pahousegop.com
RepPickett.com / Facebook.com/RepPickett
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