Starting last Sunday, January 15th, cold and allergy suffers will find it a little more difficult to purchase popular non-prescription medications.

New state laws now require buyers of cold products that contain pseudoephredrine, an key ingredient used in the production of methamphetamine, to show identification and sign a register.

As a result of the Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act, passed by the Illinois General Assembly, all products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are now considered “schedule V controlled substances”. This new law means those products must be keep behind pharmacy counters, although customers may purchase them without a prescription.

Pharmacist Melvin Greer at the Medical Center Pharmacy said he doesn’t foresee problems.

“I don’t think this is going to create a problem,” said Greer “The only thing we will have to do is the same thing we use to do with over-the-counter preparations that were a controlled substance because of the codeine in those products and in this case it will be the pseudoephredrine,” said Greer.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan pushed for this new law, which comes about a year after Illinois pulled some pseudoephredrine-based medications off shelves and put them behind pharmacy counters.

Despite that law, Madigan said Illinois has become a magnet for meth makers after neighboring states enacted stiffer regulations similar to those that took effect last weekend in Illinois. She said those states have seen meth lab busts drop by as much as 80 percent.

“Our hopes are that we will see similar numbers,” said Madigan.

Shelby County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bill England said this was becoming a real problem having Missouri people coming to Illinois to buy their ephedrine.

“Hopefully this will eliminate them (meth producers) coming from Missouri, Indiana or wherever, coming to Illinois to purchase their ephedrine,” said England.

Authorities say the new law is not perfect. For now, purchases will only be logged at individual stores, meaning meth producers can still stockpile medications by hitting several pharmacies.

“That is the only problem I see with it, there is no centralized system to say, hey, this guy is buying a lot of ephedrine,” continued England.

Madigan said Illinois hopes to develop a statewide clearinghouse, which she called “imperative” in the fight against meth.

Regardless, authorities predict the new law will slice into meth production. Just the requirement to show an ID will deter many meth users.

“By them (meth producers) signing for it, investigating after the arrest, all we have to do is check those records and find out just how much they have bought,” England said. “That would be good evidence against them and also could be worked into the conspiracy part.”

Pharmacist Steve Shastain is the owner of the Family Drug and he can see problems with the new law.

“I am worried this law may prevent access to medications needed by legitimate consumers,” said Shastain.

Randy Cain, Store Director for the County Market said the new law will effect how they do business.

“Legally we are not allowed to sell those products (cold medicines with pseudoephedrine) any more they have to be sold through a pharmacy,” said Cain. “We pulled all those products off the shelf Saturday.”

Cain went on to say they still carry a wide variety of medications. Grocery stores can still sell products with pseudoephredrine, however those products cannot exceed 360 milligrams of pseudoephredrine and must be in gel cap form.

Locally Shelbyville residents are on both sides of the fence, with some believing this new law is good and some who feel the law won’t do any good.

“I think it is a good idea to hide it behind the counter,” Sheryl Beck said. “Anything will help.”

“No, I don’t believe the new law will work because no matter how good the laws are, somebody will be smart enough to figure a way around them,” said Gene Stewman. “Just look at prohibition, that didn’t stop anything, matter of fact, it make it worst.”

Shelbyville Mayor and sheriff’s deputy Gary Crowder said it is unfortunate this law has become necessary.

“I wish we could get back as a moral society and do the right things, but until we do we are going to have to have some kind of guidelines to establish safety for everyone,” said Crowder. “What I really hope is, there is a change in people’s attitudes and we accept the responsibility of knowing the body is a temple, and we need to be very careful what we put in it.”

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