Obama Says Bill Will Help Cut Off Supply of Dangerous Methamphetamine
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today said that more strict regulation of the ingredients used to produce methamphetamine will drastically cut production and use of the deadly drug.
"Meth use has become an epidemic in Illinois, especially in Downstate and rural communities," said Obama. "This tough new law will prevent those who use over-the-counter drugs to make meth and sell it to our children from getting the quantities that they need, helping us get this dangerous drug out of our schools and off the streets."
Obama is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Combat Meth Act of 2005. This bill will require over-the-counter cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine to be locked behind the counter. It will also limit the quantity that can be bought in a month, require that purchasers show identification, and authorize $43 million for enforcement, training, and research into treatment.
Methamphetamine use is an epidemic across the United States. A recent survey by the National Association of Counties found that 58 percent of law enforcement officials surveyed identified meth use as their greatest drug challenge. Eighty-seven percent of the counties found an increase in the number of meth-related arrests in the past three years. Seventy percent of the counties said meth use had caused an increase in robberies and burglaries, fifty-three percent reported an increase in assault cases and sixty-two percent reported an increase in domestic violence.
Criminals use pseudoephedrine, a chemical commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicines like Pseudofed, to make methamphetamine in home laboratories. According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority, the number of these labs raided by law enforcement officials increased dramatically between 1994 and 2003, from 24 to 971. Seventy-five percent of those facilities were located in rural counties. During that same period, the quantity of methamphetamine seized increased from 3,433 grams to 26,597 grams.
"Part of the reason why meth use has increased so dramatically over the past decade is because it is so easy to make," said Obama. "This bill will help cut off the supply of the ingredients used to make it, and help keep our communities safe from this terrible drug."
The bill passed the Judiciary Committee today.