Council cracks down on cold medicine sales

Products used to make meth targeted in ordinance

KINGMAN – City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night that requires photo identification for the purchase of cold medicines containing ingredients used in the production of methamphetamine.

Beginning March 1, products containing any amount of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or related substances must be kept behind a counter. The new law requires the retail store to record the purchaser's name, date of birth and the quantity sold. The ordinance makes failure to do so a class one misdemeanor.

The targeted ingredients are used in common cold and allergy products including Sudafed, Tylenol Cold, Advil Cold, Drixoral, Benadryl Allergy & Cold Tablets, Robitussin Cold Sinus & Congestion, as well as many generic brands.

Kingman Police Chief Bob DeVries echoed his peers in other Arizona cities, saying that meth is a serious problem often accompanying other crimes.

"The ordinance right now has proven successful in other areas across the state … and we're going to continue to look at any other possible methods to impact the methamphetamine use," he said. "We just need to close every gap humanly possible."

Kingman joins approximately 20 other Arizona cities in either adopting or drafting an ordinance with similar restrictions. Encouraged by their local police agencies, municipalities around the state have passed stricter laws to curbing meth production to exceed the state law enacted in October.

State law restricts access only to medicine that's only active ingredient is pseudoephedrine.

The Kingman law limits access to all medicines that contain any amount of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, norpseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine.

The state law limited the sale of nine grams per purchase up to 24 grams in each transaction. Nine grams is equal to 300 tablets. The Kingman law does not set a limit, but DeVries said most retail stores already have a policy limiting purchases. He added that many stores have already moved some of the medicines behind the counter because they were frequent targets for shoplifters.

DeVries said the local ordinance would also cover "smurfing." Taken from the name of tiny fictional creatures, smurfing is a procedure in which a group of meth cookers will send multiple people one at a time to purchase as much pseudoephedrine as allowed without drawing attention under such ordinances.

Stores selling the products are required to maintain the list for 90 days, which gives police sufficient time to notice patterns.

At least six states – Montana, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas – have enacted laws this year based on an Oklahoma statute considered to be the guiding light for anti-meth laws. Ten months after passing the law, Oklahoma saw meth labs reduced by 80-percent. In most of those states, the bills were approved on unanimous or near-unanimous votes, according to Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.