Bluegrass Beacon — Technology and common sense: Beating meth but protecting freedoms, too

BluegrassBeaconLogoForgive me, but I want to say to the pencil-pushing Kentucky State Police lobbyists and drug task-force zealots: We told you so.

A common-sense approach to fighting the scourge of methamphetamine not only won out in the legislature – where, in 2012, politicians who preferred taking the sledgehammer-to-an-ant approach to the problem were politically defeated – but more important, it’s winning where it counts: Kentucky is making real progress in reducing the number of meth labs and the amount of pseudoephedrine (PSE) purchased for making meth.

According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy:

  • The number of meth labs in the Bluegrass State is now roughly half of what it was in 2011 – dropping from 1,233 in 2011 to 668 in 2013.
  • PSE sales are down year-over-year by about 12 percent.
  • The number of unique buyers is down by 10 percent, dispelling fears that lower limits on how much over-the-counter PSE could be purchased would lead to an increase in “smurfing,” a practice in which meth cooks pay others to purchase PSE for them.

Only people whose heads are firmly planted in the sand deny the serious challenges Kentucky faces in dealing with the terribly destructive meth scourge – as well as heroin overdoses and prescription-drug abuse.

But like Gov. Steve Beshear once said, we need to be “tough on crime while being smart on crime.”

Granted, Beshear made that comment while signing a bill implementing long-overdue criminal justice reforms – which he also referenced as “common sense” steps – into law. But doesn’t that also apply to the manner in which we should approach drug-related criminal activity?

Passing the legislation preferred by those looking to force all Kentuckians to obtain a prescription before they could even purchase a box of Sudafed at the corner drugstore not only would further erode the liberties of law-abiding citizens, it also would sideline the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) – a tracking system that’s proving to be one of law enforcement’s most potent anti-meth weapons.

If those not satisfied with the less-is-more approach when it comes to government’s involvement in the push against meth had gotten their way in 2012, the NPLEx tool – which tracks PSE purchases – actually would not now be available for law enforcement to use to counter illegal purchasing activity. The dissatisfied offered legislative proposals that labeled PSE as a “controlled substance,” which would cause privacy laws to kick in, thus preventing the use of NPLEx.

New data show that NPLEx is a huge success, having already stopped the sale in 2014 of more than 23,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine to would-be abusers and mis-users.

Similar results are being reported in an increasing number of states using NPLEx. More states likely will sign on as the system continues to push key meth-fight indicators downward. Oklahoma and Alabama, for example, are, like Kentucky, preserving the rights of law-abiding citizens while effectively targeting criminals with a meth-offender block list.

Isn’t using common sense and limited-government approaches while achieving what everyone involved in this fight claims to want a better way?

While everyone involved in battling the meth madness wants to rid the Bluegrass State of the use, misuse and abuse of meth, I don’t believe all involved parties are as passionately interested in protecting consumers’ freedoms.

Some in the law-enforcement community sincerely believe those liberties should take a back seat to their anti-drug agenda. However, the latest developments in Kentucky’s fight against meth confirm: we shouldn’t be so quick to surrender those liberties.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.

Some ‘no-brainers’ about mindless meth policy

During a 90-minute debate on whether limits should be placed on the amount of pseudoephedrine — used to make the dangerous and addictive drug methamphetamine — that individual Kentuckians are allowed to purchase, House Minority Whip Danny Ford, R-Mount Vernon, who’s in his 15th legislative term (30 years) called the assault on our personal freedom “a no-brainer.”

Actually, what’s a “no-brainer” is that penalizing law-abiding citizens by limiting their purchases of Sudafed will do little to shut down meth labs or punish criminals.

“No-brainer”: Too many politicians in both the House and Senate have acted like anything but defenders of Kentuckians’ values on this issue — agreeing to chip away at our individual liberties so they can go home and act like they did something while they were in Frankfort on the taxpayers’ $60,000-a-day tab.

“No-brainer”: Greenville Democrat Brent Yonts’ amendment to Senate Bill 3 blocking 5,500 individuals already convicted of meth-related crimes from purchasing pseudoephedrine without a prescription.

(Note: Senate Bill 3 passed the House with Yonts’ amendment by a 60-36 vote today. It now goes back to the Senate for approval of changes.)

“No-brainer”: Yonts’ proposal is reasonable, while Ford’s support of a big-government bill represents the type of establishment thinking that keeps the minority leadership in the House from being an effective voice for Kentuckians who believe in free markets, personal responsibility and limited government.

“No-brainer”: Non-establishment Republicans sound a lot different than Ford’s yammering, including Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, who said SB 3 “does nothing but make us feel good about doing something, (and) will create a bigger mess.”

“No-brainer”:
Rep. Jim DeCesare’s point that the state has not been mandating that law enforcement agencies use the current Meth Check monitoring system that has proven effective in stopping 78,000 grams of illegal purchases of pseudoephedrine last year.

“We should require them to do so,” DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, said.

Perhaps the biggest “no-brainer” of all: Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, observed: “Once you start giving up a little bit of your freedom, it’s hard to stop.”

Bluegrass Bullet: Talk about government overkill!

Kentuckians should be concerned about the commonwealth’s methamphetamine epidemic. But they should be even more concerned about state government’s proposed over-the-top response.

 

FACT CHECK: The meth check system IS working

Opponents of the current meth check system say it is not working. The information below shows they are wrong…

Inform yourself: Jim Waters will speak during tele-town hall on pseudoephedrine proposal tonight

Jim Waters will speak during tele-town hall on pseudoephedrine proposal tonight to inform Kentuckians about a proposal being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee that would require a prescription for safe and effective medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) – medicines like Advil Cold & Sinus, Claritin-D and Sudafed.

Jim Waters, vice president of communications for the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank, will be a featured speaker on the call. Also speaking will be Pat Davis, mother of six children and wife of 4th District Congressman Geoff Davis, and Carlos Gutierrez of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

To listen or participate, please call 877-228-2184. The code is 9449.

Become informed. Let lawmakers know you oppose all policies that penalize law-abiding citizens rather than criminals.

Jim Waters on cn|2′s ‘Pure Politics’

Recently, Jim Waters took the time to speak to Ryan Alessi on cn|2′s ‘Pure Politics’ about the growing psuedoephedrine debate in Kentucky.

Opposition to PSE Rx should have been heard ‘in real time’

In my latest Bluegrass Beacon column released to newspapers across the commonwealth yesterday (Thursday), I take Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Tom Jensen, R-London, to task for suppressing opposing voices to his big-government plan to require law-abiding Kentuckians to obtain a prescription in order to purchase a box of Sudafed.

Recently, citizens who care about the truth and this assault on their individual liberty took a day off work and delayed other responsibilities in order to travel to Frankfort and testify against Jensen’s proposal. They arrived early, acted respectfully and courageously added their names to the sign-up sheet made available to those who wish to address the committee.

Among those who requested — but were denied — the opportunity to speak was Pat Davis, a consumer and mother of six children who also happens to be the wife of 4th District Congressman Geoff Davis.

“I am disappointed that I along with several other people who oppose Sen. Jensen’s bill weren’t given a chance to testify today. I specifically speak to the impact on consumers and parents, yet the committee was forced to watch videos of news reports and slides that have been seen several times already. It is apparent that the voices of consumers and parents aren’t important to the people running this process.”

While Davis did ultimately get a chance to speak at a later meeting, she was denied the opportunity when it counted most. Committee members needed to hear – in real time — opposing voices to supporting testimony (mostly from out-of-state by the way) who were allowed to drone on and on ad infinitum.

Pseudo claims about Ky’s pseudoephedrine policy: Common-sense approach can’t effectively stop ‘smurfing’

My latest Bluegrass Beacon column heading out to newspapers Thursday will once again take on misleading claims offered by big-government politicians who want to require all law-abiding citizens to obtain a prescription in order to purchase products containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine (PSE).

By restricting PSE, which is a necessary ingredient to make methamphetamine, proponents claim they can effectively address this dangerous drug’s scourge in Kentucky.

However, 615 words is too few to cover all of the pseudo claims about Kentucky’s pseudoephedrine policy. So we will take on some of the claims one-by-one in upcoming weeks, beginning with this one:

Wrong: Rep. Brent Yonts’ common-sense proposal to improve Kentucky’s current tracking system in order to punish criminals and not law-abiding citizens will not the practice of “smurfing,” a practice in which meth cooks pay others to purchase pseudoephedrine for them.

Right: To combat surfing, Yonts’ bill would: (1) Limit the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased without a prescription to 7.5 grams a month, and 60 grams – or about 20 boxes – a year. (2) Create a meth offender registry block list, which would block sales to any person convicted of a meth-related crime, including “smurfing.”