Magazine article Drug Topics

Kansas Launches Program against Meth Labs

Magazine article Drug Topics

Kansas Launches Program against Meth Labs

Article excerpt

Drain cleaner. Rock salt. Coffee filters. Cold and diet tablets that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Lithium batteries. Automobile starter fluid. Gasoline additive. Sounds like a harmless shopping list, right? Wrong. These are some of the items that are the makings of methamphetamine (meth), an illegal, addictive drug produced in a growing number of clandestine laboratories nationwide. The items are often stolen or purchased in large quantities from pharmacies and retailers.

Pharmacy chains and supermarkets in Kansas are beginning to become more involved in detecting and preventing customers from stealing or purchasing these items in large quantities for illicit use, thanks to the Kansas Retailer Meth Watch program.

The program, which was launched two months ago, was developed by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). Team members implementing or endorsing the program include the Kansas Pharmacists Association, Osco Drug, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Albertson's, Independent Grocers Association (IGA), Falleys/Food 4 Less, Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association of Kansas, Kansas Retail Council, and Fleming Foods.

In order to make it more difficult for customers to get the items they need to make meth, the program calls for merchants to do the following: train employees; use decals in the store and on shelves that will deter theft; limit the number of packages of pseudoephedrine-containing products that may be purchased; limit the number of packages on display; place products in high-staffed areas, aisles with video surveillance, and/or behind the counter; and complete and submit suspicious transaction reports to the KBI or local police department.

The program provides packets to retailers. The packets--440 of which have been mailed free of charge to pharmacies and retailers-contain signage, a training poster, brochures to educate the public, shelf tags to increase public awareness, an instruction sheet on how to implement the program, and an order form for materials.

"We have a long way to go. We did a major mailing to large corporations, and now we're going to the smaller chains," said Bob Jurgens unit chief of the Kansas Clandestine Drug Program, part of the Kansas Department of Health & Environment. …

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