New meth law in Illinois

Illinois has another new law to crack down on meth makers.

The law makes stealing, storing or illegally transporting anhydrous ammonia a Class 4 felony.

It goes into effect in January.

For meth cookers...that means one to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

We talked with one of its sponsors, Representative Jil Tracy.

She hopes this law will deter anyone thinking of cooking the drug.

"This is one more tool for law enforcement because of the unique quality of anhydrous ammonia. It's become apparent this would help law enforcement in the battle against methamphetamine," says Tracy.

But will this law work?

That's what we wondered.

So KHQA's Melissa Shriver checked in with Pike County, Illinois Sheriff Paul Petty for this KHQA FactFinder report.

We asked Sheriff Petty if he thought this new law would be an effective way to fight meth. He told me anytime a law goes into effect to fight the problem it helps...but to what extent...only time will tell.

Time has told the tale on the anti-meth laws enacted the past couple of years.

Sheriff Petty says during the height of the meth epidemic, 75 to 80 percent of inmates here at the Pike County jail were here on meth charges. Now meth arrests are becoming more rare.

Sheriff Petty attributes that huge drop to a law passed 2 years ago...requiring folks to sign for pseudoephedrine products...cold medicines that can be used to cook meth.

Pike County Deputy Sheriff David Greenwood told us he used to respond to several anhydrous ammonia thefts every week. Now they're less frequent. He says this new law should help deter meth use even more.

How will the new meth law impact the Pike County Sheriff's Department? "As a deputy, I would be able to do more patrolling in the community instead of having to deal with the individual involved in that type of activity, which in turn will make the community safer," says Deputy Greenwood.

Sheriff Petty says you shouldn't let down your guard yet. Meth is still a problem. And even though meth use is down, marijuana arrests are up...but nowhere near the levels of meth in the late 90's.

Another point Sheriff Petty wanted to make...he told Melissa he's glad lawmakers continue to fight meth, even though use is dropping.