Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

June 11, 2013

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Registry role critical in effort to curb meth

— Police and prosecutors fighting the meth epidemic won a small victory recently, when the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the use of an electronic registry that tracks the legal sale of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in methamphetamine.

The appeals court ruled that information in the registry, the National Precursor Log Exchange, could be used as evidence under the “business record exception” to the hearsay rule, which otherwise excludes testimony or documents that quote people not in court.  

 It was a victory because of the critical role the registry plays in Indiana’s efforts to curb meth: Investigators use it to find “smurfers” — people who get paid by meth makers to go from one pharmacy to the next to buy pseudoephedrine-containing cold medicine.  

In the case that went to the appeals court, information in the registry was used to build a drug-dealing case against a 24-year-old southern Indiana man who was part of a family meth-making operation, cooking up the chemically volatile, highly addictive drug in their home.

But I also use the word “small” to describe the legal victory’s impact on what can only be called a scourge, if you define that word, as Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary does: “A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war.”

You can measure the dreadful damage in any number of ways:

By the millions of public and private dollars spent on cleaning up toxic meth labs, including $17 million spent just by Indiana State Police since 1995.

Or by the record 1,726 meth lab busts made by the Indiana State Police last year — more than twice the busts made by ISP in 2006.

Or by the average cost of a hospital stay of a meth patient, most of them uninsured, injured when their home-grown meth lab bursts into flames: $130,000, according to an Associated Press study last year of the most active meth states which, sadly, includes Indiana.

Or by the horrifying number of children found by police, busting the clandestine meth labs, in bedrooms, basements and backyards throughout Indiana. In 2012 alone, there were 372 of them, including the 2-year-old son of that defendant in the Court of Appeals case. Many of those children tested positive for meth, having been exposed to it just by breathing in the chemical fumes produced when their caretakers were cooking up the drug.

Or we could measure it by the countless police reports that frighteningly mirror the fictional meth-maker Walter White on TV’s “Breaking Bad.” In that Court of Appeals case, police who found the 2-year-old also found a laptop computer that showed the last Internet searches made on it before the bust: “how to manufacture methamphetamine” and “how to silently kill someone.”

 Almost every year since 2005, the Indiana General Assembly has debated legislation aimed at restricting access to the cold medicines that contain meth’s primary precursor. And each time it passes a new law tightening those restrictions, legislators hail it as the right fix.

This year is no different: They rejected a measure favored by the Indiana State Police and mayors of the most scourge-ravaged communities that would have returned pseudoephedrine to its long-ago controlled status, requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy it. They approved a bill, favored by cold-medicine makers and many legitimate users, that instead further limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a consumer can buy over the counter to what amounts to about an eight-months supply.

I’m an allergy-suffering, legitimate user of pseudoephedrine and go nowhere without it, but I’m willing to risk my eight-months supply on a sure bet: Absent some drastic action by the General Assembly, I’ll be reading and writing about clandestine meth labs and 2-year-olds in harm’s way for years to come.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana, including the Kokomo Tribune. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAVE BANGERT: Indiana's new chief justice and court's 'mom question' Two years ago, as Loretta Rush ascended from Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 judge to the state’s Supreme Court, I dropped this line in a column celebrating someone who had earned her place.“Across the state, the headline will be: ‘[Mitch] Daniels Choose

    August 14, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: POTUS promises of transparency fail to materialize The United States system of government relies on citizens having full access to information that can be used in self-governance. Journalists and other First Amendment advocates were enthused when the Obama administration came into office with convinc

    August 14, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: RIP Robin Williams

    I was re-watching the 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine” Monday when I heard my phone buzz. After the credits had rolled, I looked at the screen and found myself shocked.It was a news alert that Robin Williams had died that morning at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' is a Hoosier inspiration

    Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton dese

    August 13, 2014

  • DAVE BANGERT: Rokita, illegal immigration, Ebola outbreak and context At first listen last Monday, there was something so unsavory about our congressman, Todd Rokita, whipping up two full-fledged crises — Central American children at the U.S. southern border and the African scourge of Ebola — into one pungent sound bit

    August 12, 2014

  • DAN COATS: Let's give nonprofits relief from IRS delays A flurry of scandal has recently surrounded the Internal Revenue Service.Over the past few months, we have learned about missing emails from IRS employees and revelations of clear bias and hostility by a top IRS official towards organizations with ce

    August 12, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Pitchforks and pikes in our summer of discontent Congress is ... embarrassing. Our political system is failing us. On an individual basis, many of us have respect for members of our delegation. We can have a common sense conversation with a senator, congressman or congresswoman, and then they go ba

    August 11, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Enough reminders to forget It began with a simple phone call to my friend, Auri, a computer geek I asked to help me with my very successful website, which right now is attracting up to three visitors a month. To have a strong online presence, you have to spend several hours a

    August 11, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Outsourced jobs, health crises in foreign lands The other week, my Internet was giving me trouble. I called the support number, and — to my surprise — I spoke to a representative who sounded as American as apple pie. It turned out the technical problem was an oversight on my end and fixed quickly.

    August 10, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Dodging corporate taxes Corporations are among our oldest institutions. Something like a joint stock company probably triggered the earliest formal written communication — the accounting ledger. It should be unsurprising that the early traders of Mesopotamia used a corporat

    August 10, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
NYC Doctor-in-chief Seeks Community Approach Indonesian Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters Raw: Shots Fired in Liberian Shantytown DOJ, Bank of America Reach Record Settlement Raw: Cubavision Airs Images of Fidel Castro Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller