Syracuse -- State and local police could go after meth-makers buying cold medicine in bulk under a proposed law the New York State Senate passed today.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, mirrors a federal law that tracks and limits the amount of purchases of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient needed to make methamphetamine.
It would also make New York a part of a growing database to track cold medicine purchases in real-time. Currently, 16 states participate in the National Precursor Log Exchange, according to the legislation.
It’s unclear whether the proposal will become law, however, as lawmakers wrap up their last day of the year’s regular session. If the Assembly doesn’t act on the bill today, it’s possible it might if Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls lawmakers back to Albany later in the year.
Meth-making is on the rise in New York’s rural communities. Police found 44 meth labs statewide last year. In the first three months of 2012, police found 26.
Already, federal law limits cold medicine purchases to 3.6 grams in one day and to 9 grams in 30 days per customer.
A box of cold medicine can contain up to 3.6 grams. With every purchase, the customer has to show a photo identification, and the store is required to keep a record of the purchase.
Meth cookers get around those restrictions by employing family, friends and users to drive from drugstore to drugstore buying allergy medicine. Police call those buyers “smurfers,” after the blue cartoon characters called Smurfs who worked in teams.
Valesky’s bill would give local police the jurisdiction to go directly after the lawbreakers. Now, local and state police must work with federal police, who have jurisdiction over the crime.
Contact Teri Weaver at email@example.com or 470-2274.