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Senate Committee Considers Limits on Cold Medicine

A senate panel considers restricting access to cold medicine. Law enforcement officers say it would help reduce the production of the illegal drug methamphetamine. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The senate committee listened as law enforcement officers talked about the problems associated methamphetamine production.

Major James Keathley with the Missouri Highway Patrol told lawmakers it's costing taxpayers money.

And as for the local impact, Greene County Sheriff Jack Merritt says meth-related crimes has helped fill the county jail.

He says it costs Greene County residents thousands of dollars each year.

Given all that, lawmakers are considering legislation that would greatly limit access to cold medicines that contain one of the key ingredients used to make methamphetamine.

Cold medicines like Sudafed contain pseudoephedrine.

Addicts use this chemical to make meth.

Under the proposal, consumers could only buy three packs of medicine containing pseudoephedrine per month.

In addition, the bill would only allow pharmacists to sell the medicine.

This provision would take cold medicine off the shelves of convenience stores and any other store that doesn't employ a pharmacist.

Republican Senator John Loudon says the bill may go too far in creating an inconvenience for people who need cold remedies.

There is opposition to the proposal from retailers and convenience store owners.

And Democratic Senator Chuck Graham raised concerns about how these proposals would impact rural communities.

The proposals Missouri lawmakers are considering are similar to laws passed in Oklahoma.

Supporters of the restrictions on cold medicine say Oklahoma has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of meth labs, the sites where meth is produced.

James Klahr, an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri says lawmakers should follow Oklahoma's pro-active approach to dealing with meth.

Missouri's governor was in Springfield late last week to announce his support for these measures.