Missouri leads country in methamphetamine incidents

(Marion Co, Mo.) A Missouri state law that went into effect in 2005 allows people to purchase a maximum of two boxes of medicine that contains pseudoephedrin, a main ingredient in the manufacturing of the drug methamphetamine.

But the catch to that law is a person can buy two boxes at one store and go to a different store and make another purchase.

Now, the number of methamphetamine labs throughout the state of Missouri has begun to increase.

KHQA's Jarod Wells talked with Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn today about why Missouri leads the country in meth labs, and what can be done to fix this problem.

Meth is a four letter word law enforcement in Missouri is getting sick of. There were 1,487 methamphetamine incidents in 2008. 58 of those took place in Marion County, which is up from 29 in 2007.

Since 2005, Missouri pharmacists have kept a record of all purchases of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine. Those records slowed the number of meth labs, but Shinn says that number has begun to increase again.

"What the difference is, the methamphetamine cookers, the manufacturers, have actually gotten up to speed on the law," said Shinn "and understand they can buy 2 boxes at each store, but yet they can shop around from store to store."

Shinn says there are a few reasons why Missouri is the meth capital of the country. One reason is its location. Meth dealers in the Show-Me-State have the ability to distribute the drug to the entire country because of its central location. Shinn also says the state appeals to meth dealers because of its agricultural resources.

"Well, I think overall just the abundance of anhydrous ammonia that is available in Missouri," said Shinn. "That's the second key ingredient. It's a very big agricultural state and I think that's one reason why."

Being the meth capital of the country is negative for obvious reasons, but Shinn says he also sees it as a positive.

"However, I believe it's a positive too because I believe our legislature, our law enforcement, has taken the lead role in the entire country as far as combating this drug," said Shinn. "And we're very aggressive on it and making arrests concerning methamphetamine labs."

The state of Missouri is trying to go high-tech in its fight against meth labs.

It is trying to connect all pharmacies into one system that could track purchases of medicine containing ingredients used to make meth.

This project has plenty of support, but lacks funding.

Shinn said he does not expect anything to happen with that system for at least one year.