- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota law enforcement might soon have a new tool to fight the production of methamphetamine.

Faced with a growing problem as producers learn easier ways to make the illegal stimulant, the state’s attorney general wants South Dakota to keep electronic records of the buyers of certain cold medicines that contain a key ingredient in meth.

“We’re doing well in the war on drugs with the exception of methamphetamine, which is why I’m sitting before you today,” Attorney General Marty Jackley said Tuesday.

The House Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to support the measure.

South Dakota law currently limits sale of products that contain pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, which can be used to make meth. The bill introduced by Jackley would add products with phenylpropanolamine to the restricted list.

There already is a limit to the amount of cold medicine a person can buy in the state. The electronic database would alert vendors when to stop a sale because the customer already reached the monthly quota.

South Dakota would be the 30th state to join an electronic registry run by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators.

Vendors of these products already take down buyer information, including name and date of birth. Jackley said the bill includes identity protections.

He said this system was more helpful when it took off with grant funding in 2006. But now law enforcement officials lack funding and staff to search through the paper records and identify patterns of abuse.

“Many of those records are not being reviewed right now,” Jackley said. “This system would link it all together.”

Dick Tieszen of the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association said the bill could allow officers to stop meth producers before the drugs make it onto the streets or the toxic waste is haphazardly discarded. Tieszen said the information currently available to law enforcement is six to eight weeks old.

“This is a significant problem that we need to stay on top of,” Tieszen said.

Representatives from the South Dakota State Medical Association, Pharmacists Association and Retailers Association supported the measure. There were no opponents.

Registering customers in the database does not cost retailers anything and it requires only an Internet connection and computer. Businesses without access to this technology can get a waiver to continue with paper records. Retailers and pharmacies would have to track the product sold and the quantity along with information on the buyer. Vendors would submit these paper records to the attorney general each month.

Jackley said he suspects only a handful will seek the waiver.

The bill received unanimous support through the Senate. It goes next to the House floor and, if passed, on to the governor.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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