I feel some of the points raised in the Letter to the Editor, “Missourians Deserve Laws Grounded in Fact” by Rep. Stanley Cox, need to be addressed.
I agree that the debate is heating up in Jefferson City in regards to Missouri’s methamphetamine problem and we must address the epidemic.
With our current tracking system in place, we have seen a 7 percent increase in meth lab seizures. Last year alone we had a total of 2,080 meth labs seizures, once again putting us in the No. 1 spot in the nation.
There are many differing opinions how to solve this issue with minimal impact to law-abiding citizens with seasonal allergies. This year I have sponsored HB 1952 known as The Meth Lab Elimination Act. This bill is very similar to last year’s HB 658, which had overwhelming bipartisan support to curb our meth lab problem.
HB 1952, however, now allows for Department of Health and Senior Services to allow an exemption to the prescription-only mandate for any product that yields less than 5 percent of the active ingredient used for the conversion into methamphetamine or its salts or precursors. This is because a Missouri-based pharmaceutical company recently developed a pseudoephedrine product, which will allow law-abiding citizens access to pseudoephedrine while virtually eliminating all meth labs in the state of Missouri.
We are told this product can be available in approximately 90 days and would fall within the guidelines for the exemption, making it available without a prescription. This product has been tested by independent laboratories and the DEA and has been found to virtually eliminate the conversion of pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine.
The bill proposed by my colleague, Rep. Stanley Cox, is merely an attempt to allow the pharmaceutical industry to ignore a problem they know exists. The limit restriction will have no effect curtailing the meth lab problem; it has been tried in other states with no effect on meth lab numbers.
However, what I am proposing will virtually eliminate all meth labs, saving our state valuable resources. We will be able to eliminate the money spent to clean up meth labs, saving the state taxpayers approximately $2,000 per lab incident. Additionally, we will free up hospital beds filled with burn victims from lab explosions, most of whom do not have medical insurance.
This bill will save the lives of children and prevent future children from being stuck in DFS custody due to parents’ incarceration and addiction. Let me give you the real world numbers: In 2010 the costs associated with meth labs exceeded 31.4 million taxpayers’ dollars. Cleanup of lab sites, $2.1 million; custodial care for children removed from meth lab homes, $3.4 million; incarceration, $17.6 million; and treatment, $8.3 million.
This list does not even include the cost of law enforcement, medical bills for the uninsured, the court systems to prosecute the offenders, and environmental impact. Looking at those numbers, I feel we owe it to ourselves and our taxpayers to pass this legislation. HB 1952 allows access to all consumers and patients while eliminating meth labs and their devastating effects on Missouri.
Who can argue with that?
Next week we will have a hearing in Crime Prevention and Public Safety; let the facts speak for themselves.
This is the path we need to go down to put an end to the destructive meth labs that have plagued our state for far too long.
Dave Schatz is a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives. He lives in Sullivan and represents the 111th District.