Committed to combating meth use

Friday, July 10, 2015

Committed to combating meth use

Within our community and state, meth continues to be a major concern. In 2014, there were more than 1,400 meth lab seizures in Indiana. In House District 82, three counties –Noble, Allen and Elkhart– were among the top 10 counties with the most lab seizures in the state.

 These troubling statistics have motivated multiple state legislators to work on a variety of bills to combat meth use. Unfortunately, as state leaders, it can be challenging to find a solution that addresses drug production and abuse while limiting government infringement on law-abiding citizens.

 This session, there were several bills filed on this topic in which each offered a different approach: making pseudoephedrine and ephedrine available by prescription only, changing how we report meth-related convictions or increasing the punishment for meth crimes.

For example, House Bill (HB) 1390 approached this problem by changing the amounts of over-the-counter drugs containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine that a pharmacy may sell and limits the amount that a person may purchase without a prescription. Additionally, Senate Bill (SB) 290 provided a similar solution that all materials, compounds, mixtures or preparations containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine would have been increased to a Schedule III controlled substance, which can only be dispensed by prescription.

HB 1602, a bill that I co-authored, combined elements from the previously mentioned legislation but also focused on increasing penalties for meth-related crimes.

As for changing how we report meth convictions, HB 1563 and SB 536 would have required courts to report these crimes to the Indiana State Police, where they would then report the convictions to the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. The purpose would be to issue sale alerts, through the National Precursor Log Exchange, to prevent individuals with a previous meth conviction from gaining access to ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

As you can see, there were many bills filed this session related to meth use and production. Unfortunately, most of them never received a committee hearing or a vote and not a single bill reached the governor’s desk for signature.

Stopping meth production and protecting our communities from this drug epidemic is a major issue that several lawmakers are working to fix –unfortunately, solving this problem is complicated. It has been difficult to find consensus in a legislative body where not every representative faces this problem in their communities. As a state leader, I want to find common ground on this issue so that those of us who represent areas that are plagued by meth can fight back against this cancer in our communities. Rest assured, the legislature is working to find a solution, and I certainly welcome your feedback moving forward. 

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 Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.