Albany-- Methamphetamine use is still strong in Southwest Georgia, but drug agents say new laws are helping reduce the number of labs making it here.
A new Georgia law has put one of the key ingredients in making meth behind pharmacy counters. Drug Agents say this is helping cut down on the number of meth labs in Southwest Georgia.
Cold Medicines containing pseudoephedrine are a necessary ingredient to make Meth. Drug Agents say keeping those products from being widely available has cut down on Meth Lab manufacturing.
Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit Commander Major Bill Berry said, "We're seeing a drop off in the number of seizure of labs in the Albany area and the Southwest corner of the state."
Meth labs making the illegal stimulant were widespread in South Georgia last year, so legislators responded with new laws to limit pseudoephedrine. First they said people could only buy three boxes at a time. But the drug makers just started stealing it off the shelves.
U-Save-It Pharmacist Ashley Kunkle said "There were some shoplifting issues going on. That way, them being behind the counter prevents people from stealing them."
House Bill 216 now says these cold medications must be kept behind store's counters, so customers have to ask for it. Logs are kept of sales. "They are going to document that, and we can trace that if we see an abuse of it," said Major Berry.
Berry says meth use is still high in South Georgia, but more of the manufacturing is now being done around Atlanta in what are called Super Labs. "Where they are making pounds and kilos of it, and obviously that is for distribution in other parts of the state and the country," said Berry.
Law enforcement says Methamphetamine use is filling up jails across the country, as arrests have increased dramatically in the last three years. Drug agents say the little inconvenience in buying the cold medicine now will pay off. "But it's to help protect us all," said Berry.
Berry says the battle against Meth in 2005 is at the same stage as the war against crack cocaine was in 1985. He says lawmakers are helping control Meth, taking the ingredients out of the drug manufacturers hands.
In June, Congress started work on a comprehensive methamphetamine bill, to federalize many of the laws Georgia has already enacted.