You probably heard about the recent incident involving an active methamphetamine lab at the Noble County Fair. I wish I could say that this is a rare occurrence in our community, and that events like this are unlikely to be repeated, but over the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in meth-related crimes.
In an interview earlier this year, I said that I would like to see bolder action against this drug, and I stand by that statement. We have to do more. Regardless of political affiliation, unifying on this issue to take a stand against the expansion of meth throughout Indiana will strengthen every community.
In 2012, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) collected data regarding the nation’s meth epidemic. Indiana ranked 3rd highest for most reported incidents, implying that yes, law enforcement is putting meth producers and users behinds bars, but also that there is a considerable amount of meth activity taking place.
According to the DEA, of the 11,210 national meth-related cases involving labs, dumpsites and chemical/glass/equipment, Indiana was home to 1,429 incidents. In an interview with WTHR, Indiana State Police Sergeant Niki Crawford said that nearly every county in Indiana saw at least a 20 percent increase in meth labs in the last year.
While it is difficult to legislate a problem like this, the General Assembly is making strides to strengthen the consequences for those who manufacture, distribute or possess meth.
This year, the General Assembly passed legislation combating the issue of meth manufacturing and distribution. Senate Enrolled Act 496 designates that ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, a critical ingredient to meth commonly found in cold medicines, may be sold only by a pharmacy or a retailer that uses the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) tracking system.
NPLEx allows law enforcement agencies to monitor ephedrine or pseudoephedrine amounts sold to individuals, ensuring that these products are purchased in reasonable amounts. Before SEA 496, a consumer could purchase up to 86.4 grams per year, but this new law reduces that number to 61.2 grams –determined by doctors and pharmacists to be a reasonable annual amount for the use of cold relief or easement of sinus pressure.
I think this was a step in the right direction, but we need to think outside the box to create policy giving more resources to law enforcement, enabling them to find a more effective way to get to the root of the problem instead of just catching users and dealers.
Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town is a book I’ve been reading about a town in Iowa that tells the true story of drug abuse in rural America and how one community saw their destruction coming and fought back. Many states around the country are facing the same battle we are, and we need to look at their successes and draw inspiration from them.
My thoughts and opinions on the drug problem in our area have changed drastically as I’ve learned more and more about the issue. It isn’t an easy situation to understand or fix, and I’m interested to hear your thoughts on how to combat this growing danger that threatens our safety, our community and our families. Please contact me by phone at 317-232-9643 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your ideas.
Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.