CHICAGO – Taking another major step to protect Illinois communities from a dangerous and highly addictive drug, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law further restricting the availability of the main ingredient used to make Methamphetamine, or meth. Senate Bill 273, initiated by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, places more controls on the sale of products like pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, commonly used in cold medicines, which are the essential ingredients in meth.
“Methamphetamine destroys lives, families and entire communities. By signing this law, we’re making it much harder for meth-manufacturers to find the ingredients they need to make meth. We need to do everything we can to fight the scourge of meth -- by cutting off the supply of what’s needed to make it, increasing penalties for those who make, sell and use meth, and giving law enforcement officers more resources to fight meth. Today is an important step in the fight ” said Gov. Blagojevich.
“In January 2005, Illinois had one of the toughest laws in the nation when it came to restrictions on the sale and placement of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. However, since that time, our bordering states passed even stricter laws, which made Illinois an attractive target for meth makers looking to buy the ingredients they need to make their drugs,” said Attorney General Madigan, who as part of her effort to research and draft this bill, held three law enforcements summits across the state. “Signing of this legislation into law means that Illinois will never be a weak link in a chain of states working to put meth makers out of business. It brings law enforcement and retailers together, in a united front, to make it harder for criminals to complete their shopping lists.”
SB 273, The Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act, was sponsored by Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) and Sen. William Haine (D-Alton). The new law makes pseudoephedrine and ephedrine Schedule V controlled substances, thereby requiring that all products containing those substances must be kept behind pharmacy counters or, if a convenience package, in locked cabinets. Customers who wish to purchase those products must be at least 18 years old and show photo identification, as well as sign a log with their name, address, the date and time of the transaction, and a product description. The logs will remain confidential, but must be kept for at least two years, and must be made available to law enforcement upon request.
Additionally, no more than 7,500 milligrams of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine may be purchased in a 30-day period, and no more than 2 packages of medicines containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine may be purchased at one time.
Retail stores that sell these products will be required to train their employees about these new restrictions. Violation of these controls by a worker is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense, a Class 4 felony for a second offense, and a Class 1 felony for a third or subsequent offense. The store or pharmacy itself would be subject to a $500 fine on the first offense, a $1000 fine on the second offense within 3 years at the same location, and a $5000 fine for the third offense within 3 years at the same location. Customers who violate the act, including purchasing more than 2 packages at a time or more than 7500 milligrams in a month, are subject to a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense, a Class A misdemeanor on the second offense, and a Class 4 felony for a third or subsequent offense.
Meth is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system, and is derived from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, commonly used in cold medicine. Statistics show that meth is a growing problem in Illinois. In 1997, the Illinois State Police seized 24 meth labs. By 2004, that number increased substantially to 959. The drug has quickly become the most dangerous and perplexing problem for law enforcement, particularly in Central and Southern Illinois.
“This new law will help prevent Illinois from becoming a haven for meth-makers," Rep. Bradley said. "Thanks to the governor quickly signing this bill, Illinois is now at the forefront in the fight against meth. Most importantly, Midwestern states have now presented a united front against meth and sent a message to meth-makers that their destructive activities will not be tolerated in Illinois or a neighboring state."
"This is the culmination of a three year effort that has increased penalties for the possession or manufacture of meth, increased penalties for injuries to innocent children or other people and mandates procedures which will dry up the easy availability of the key ingredient used for the making of meth,” said Sen. Haine. “Law enforcement, prosecutors and judges now have the tools to smash the meth makers."
The new law takes effect January 15, 2006.
The Governor, working with Attorney General Madigan, has taken a number of steps to help law enforcement fight the growing problem of meth in Illinois communities:
- Creation of Meth Response Teams: In May, the Governor and the Illinois State Police activated six Dedicated Meth Response Teams that are responsible for investigating, seizing, and dismantling clandestine drug laboratories all over the state. The Teams provide more efficient training, equipment deployment, and medical monitoring costs, as well as increase response coverage throughout the state, increase the number of methamphetamine laboratories seized, and reduce the high cost of methamphetamine lab waste removal.
- Establishment of a dedicated meth statute: Senate Bill 562, the new Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, initiated by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sponsored by Sen. William R. Haine (D-Alton) and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), and signed by the Governor, went in to effect on September 11, 2005. In addition to creating a new statute for meth-related crimes, the law created a new offense targeting those who buy or attempt to buy, transport or assemble meth-making materials other than pseudoephedrine, ephedrine or anhydrous ammonia, as well as other provisions like requiring that those who manufacture meth in places like hotels, motels, apartment buildings or condominiums face mandatory prison time and making it a crime to dispose of meth manufacturing waste.
- Helping Illinois attack the meth problem: The Governor signed a number of other pieces of legislation relating to meth production and its effect on Illinois communities. They include the creation of the Methamphetamine Abusers Pilot Program at the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center and Franklin County Jail and the creation of the Methamphetamine Law Enforcement Fund, which will provide money to local law enforcement for costs associated with fighting meth. Additionally, a law that takes effect on January 1, 2006, directs the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), State Police (ISP), and State Board of Education to develop a protocol to deal with the growing problem of children who are exposed to meth manufacturing or use.
- Grants to local law enforcement: The Governor continued the support of local multijurisdictional narcotics units fighting drug crimes in 61 Illinois counties by earmarking more than $3.5 million in federal funding to these groups. The groups, also known as metropolitan enforcement groups (MEGs) and drug task forces, create individualized strategies to address the drug problems facing each county, including meth challenges.