Missouri meth laws burden counties in southern Illinois

UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - They were put in place to help stop the production of meth. But ordinances in southeast Missouri are presenting a new problem for a number of counties in southern Illinois.

In Illinois to buy pseudo ephedrine, which is a key ingredient in meth, all you need is a valid identification and about $10. But in many southeast Missouri communities you need a prescription. Police says that has sent some from the Show Me State across state lines.

According to court papers, Caleb Marshall of Cape Girardeau was one of those driven by meth to Illinois. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds says over the past year and half more cases like Marshal's continue to end up on his desk, all at a cost to county taxpayers.

"We have to pay to hold people in jail," Edmonds said. "We have to pay as a state to send people to prison and these are the types of offense that have to be handled."

In the Land of Lincoln, state law only allows you to buy so much pseudo ephedrine, which is tracked in a database. Union County Sheriff David Livesay says to get around that, meth makers hire others to buy their pills.

"We're seeing car loads of Missouri, when I say car loads, we're seeing two to five people in a car in mostly Missouri plates that will be at a business, mostly Wal-Mart here in Anna," Livesay said.

According to the Illinois Attorney General's Office in the last 30 days nearly one third of those buying pseudo ephedrine from the Anna Wal-Mart live in Missouri.

Investigators say typically, those pills are then used in the shake and bake method to make meth. They often make the drug in soda bottles. Once over the state line in Missouri those pills go for top dollar on the street.

"Before the ordinance they were selling for $40 to $50 a box and here lately I've had people tell me they're spending up to $100 a box," Ron Merideth, SEMO Drug Task Force said.

Merideth says pseudo ephedrine ordinances are working but realizes it pushes some users over state lines.

Back in Union County Edmonds argues his state needs to come up with a better way to help fight the meth problem.

"My first concern is obviously the people of Union County and making sure we're not a magnet for meth uses to come to our town," Edmonds said.

Edmonds says he and the attorney's general's office are working to encourage Wal-Mart in Anna to stop selling pseudo ephedrine to people from out of state.

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