U.S. Government Steps Up Its Meth Battle

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U.S. Government Steps Up Its Meth Battle

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President George W. Bush has directed his administration to take aggressive and collaborative action in addressing the rise of methamphetamine, which could result in more c-stores being investigated and targeted for the sale of over-the-counter drugs used to make meth, such as pseudoephedrine.

The war against meth is now "a top priority" for the Department of Justice, whose goals in the endeavor are to communicate, cooperate and coordinate with international, state and local law enforcement partners to tackle every aspect of the national threat, according to a press release from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Paul Grewal, president of the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA), which has been working to educate South Asian convenience store owners and employees on the laws regulating the sale of precursors, told CSNews Online that "this announcement from the DEA suggests that convenience store owners, like all merchants, must continue their vigilance in understanding the laws regulating sales of meth precursors. For example, when Congress recently reauthorized the Patriot Act, it included additional provisions pertaining to the sale of pseudoephedrine."

Recent survey data from the Illinois Attorney General suggest that c-store retailers and employees are at a significant disadvantage in their compliance with precursor regulations, as compared to larger pharmacies and chain drugstores, Grewal said, noting that NASABA's outreach programs are aimed at closing the gap in c-store owners and workers' access to legal counsel on these issues.

The association last month held a Know Your Rights seminar for convenience store owners and employees in Chicago, dealing with the laws regulating the sale of items that can be used to manufacture methamphetamines and the pitfalls that many convenience store owners and employees have fallen victim to. In light of the success of that program in Chicago, NASABA is planning additional educational outreach programs in other cities, including Atlanta, Grewal told CSNews Online.

In the 2005 fiscal year, the Drug Enforcement Administration made 5,870 meth arrests and seized 2,491 kilograms of the drug .The U.S. Attorney General's office has focused on combating methamphetamine through various methods, including:

-- Increasing DEA Operations and Arrests
-- Making Meth Prosecutions a Priority for U.S. Attorneys
-- Working with State and Local Law Enforcement
-- Providing Information and Awareness
-- Strengthing International Partnerships to Combat Methamphetamine

The biggest impact to c-store retailers has been the "Combat Methamphetamine Act" that makes certain drugs used in manufacturing meth "scheduled listed chemical products" harder to obtain in unlimited quantities and easier for law enforcement to track.

The legislation, which provides a national standard for the regulation of meth precursors, imposes limits on daily retail and monthly mail order/Internet sales, requires behind-the-counter placement or display and storage in locked cabinets; requires that regulated sellers such as retail distributors and pharmacies maintain a written logbook of purchases and that buyers present photo ID and sign the log; and requires each regulated seller to submit a certification to the Drug Enforcement Administration.