SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation tightening restrictions on the sale and retail display of certain chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine, popularly known as “meth.” The new law establishes the Methamphetamine Manufacturing Chemical Retail Sale Control Act, and makes Illinois one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to curbing access to key ingredients used to make meth.
“Meth use is rising throughout Illinois, putting our young people and our communities at risk. This new law will make it harder for meth manufacturers to get the ingredients they need to make the drug and, ultimately, may cut down on the number of dangerous meth labs that have sprung up around the state,” Blagojevich said. “I want to thank Attorney General Madigan for her leadership in battling the devastating consequences of the meth trade, and also Sen. Haine and Rep. Bradley for working to win legislative approval on this important new law.”
“This new law is one of the most significant crime-fighting tools our state has seen in the recent past. It reached Governor Blagojevich’s desk because law enforcement, lawmakers and retailers all understand that we are facing a methamphetamine epidemic that threatens to overwhelm our communities,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. “Methamphetamine is not just a problem; it’s a plague. We must fight its production and use every resource available. This law takes an important new step in cutting off the source of meth makers’ ingredients for their deadly recipe.”
SB 2244, sponsored by Sen. William R. Haine (D-Alton) and Rep. John E. Bradley (D-Marion), creates standards for how drugs containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – most often cold medicine – can be packaged and sold. Stores cannot sell more than two packages of cold medicine at a time, and the packages can contain no more than three grams of a targeted methamphetamine manufacturing chemical.
Additionally, the legislation requires that stores keep some packages of cold medicines behind the counter, either locked or monitored by the retailer. The tighter requirement will help prevent the theft of meth-making ingredients. Also, retailers may not distribute the packages if they have reason to think the medicine will be used to manufacture methamphetamine and store employees where these medicines are sold will undergo special training.
The new law establishes penalties for violations of the Act. First offenses will be Class A misdemeanors and second offenses will be Class 4 felonies. In addition business owners can be fined $100 - $5,000.
The Governor also announced the launch of the “Project X” back-to-school campaign. “Project X” is an ongoing cooperative effort between the Illinois State Police and the Department of Human Services to raise awareness among youth and parents about the dangers of meth and ‘club drugs’.
The campaign will alert college-age youth to the dangers of “club drugs” and provide information on counseling, prevention resources and treatment programs. The campaign will feature television and radio public service announcements in university and college communities around the state.
Last year more than 5,000 people sought treatment for club drug-related problems at IDHS-funded treatment facilities. The drug is particularly popular among young people. During 2002, 11.9 percent of college students and 14.8 percent of young adults (ages 19–28) reported using meth at least once during their lifetimes.
The Illinois State Police have recorded significant increases in recent years in the number of meth lab busts and the amount of illegal meth seized. The agency encountered 971 meth labs in Illinois in 2003, up from 403 in 2000; and the quantity of meth seized by the ISP increased dramatically between 1994 and 2003, jumping from 3,433 grams to 26,582 grams – a 674 percent increase.
“None of our children are safe, until all of our children are safe—and through Project X we intend to save the lives of our young people by providing them with information and resources,” Governor Blagojevich said. “Through this innovative treatment and enforcement program we hope to continue to strengthen the backbone of our state, which are its families.”