Some cities planning crackdown on ingredients used to make meth

PHOENIX (AP) - With Arizona leading the nation in methamphetamine use by children 12 to 17 years old, several cities plan to start limiting access to some cold and allergy medicines used to make the drug.

Cold pills contain pseudoephedrine - the key ingredient in meth, which is an illegal stimulant that prompts violent behavior and hallucinations. Phoenix sparked the crackdown with two laws that will require buyers of such common medicines as Sudafed and Benadryl-D to show photo identification and sign a purchase log starting Dec. 6. Law enforcement officials and council members from Gilbert to Goodyear are considering whether to match that enforcement in an effort to keep meth users and dealers from crossing over their borders.

"If we don't all start, they will start coming to our community to purchase these precursor drugs," Goodyear Police Chief Mark Brown said.

Scottsdale, Surprise, Tucson and Bullhead City have already placed certain restrictions on so-called precursor drugs.

In Scottsdale, consumers are required to show identification and provide their name, address and date of birth.

The Scottsdale data will be kept for 90 days and made available to police.

Phoenix requires retailers to hand over the information every month.

Phoenix's two new laws copy Oklahoma laws that are considered among the toughest in the nation.

Oklahoma requires that pseudoephedrine products be kept behind pharmacy counters and requires a signature and photo identification for purchase.

That state has seen a decrease of about 90 percent in meth labs in the 19 months since the law passed, according to Mark Woodward, spokesman for Oklahoma's narcotics bureau.

Oklahoma's neighboring states saw escalating problems and responded with tougher laws, Woodward said.

Now, 22 states have emulated Oklahoma, and 15 more including Arizona are expected to try next year.

Attorney General Terry Goddard and the Arizona League of Cities and Towns are pushing for a more restrictive statewide law.

The current state law does not require retailers to keep a record of sales and restricts public access only to medicines with pseudoephedrine as the only active ingredient.