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Meth rule is a crucial first step

It needs to be strengthened, and consumers need to be protected

Gov. Ted Kulongoski's move to restrict access to over-the-counter cold remedies used to manufacture methamphetamine won't solve the state's meth crisis all by itself, but it's a vital part of the overall effort.

The governor issued an administrative order earlier this month that medications containing pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant, be removed from open store shelves and sold from behind pharmacy counters. The order further requires purchasers to show identification.

Pseudoephedrine is the primary ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine, a highly addictive illegal stimulant. Police say methamphetamine use is a factor in the vast majority of arrests for property and identity theft across the state. Oregon ranks first among all states in the number of residents being treated by methamphetamine addiction.

The final order, issued last week by the state Board of Pharmacy, is less stringent than the governor wanted. The order will be in effect for six months beginning Nov. 15 while the Legislature considers a permanent rule.

The Oregon Grocery Association says the rule will be a burden on retailers and innocent consumers.

We disagree. The rule is modeled after a law passed by the Oklahoma legislature that restricts all pseudoephedrine sales to licensed pharmacies and requires pharmacists to keep records of purchasers.

— Oregon's rule allows gel-cap and liquid cold remedies to remain on open shelves because extracting the active ingredient from liquid is more difficult. And the Oregon rule does not require pharmacists to keep records of those buying pseudoephedrine, only to check I.D.

Oklahoma officials say that state's new law has saved millions of dollars and greatly reduced the number of small meth labs. Oregon officials estimate there are 500 small labs in the state, although they acknowledge that much of the drug is imported from large illicit labs in California and Mexico.

The Board of Pharmacy said it intends to toughen the emergency rule if the Legislature makes it permanent. The rule needs to be tougher ' we are concerned that the compromise approved last week will not be effective enough ' and strict safeguards need to be built in to safeguard the privacy of consumers.

Other steps also are needed against the meth scourge, but this rule can be implemented immediately and could help curtail small meth labs. The small operations in homes, motel rooms and travel trailers pose severe environmental hazards and threaten the health and safety of children who are exposed to them.

Beyond the basics

My basic job is leadership. But everything I've done, I've done as a team.

Those are the words of Marc Bayliss, a Medford resident who has contributed his time and talents to many local projects, providing leadership to get things done.

Bayliss has served in leadership positions for a number of nonprofit organizations, among them United Way of Jackson County, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Southern Oregon Public Television, and Britt Festivals, which honored him with its annual Britt Family Tree Award. In 1997 Bayliss joined with Rotary International, Merck & Co. Inc. and Southern Oregon hospitals and physicians to provide medical aid to the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia.

Bayliss said it's all about joining with people in the Rogue Valley who care about the quality of life.

It's people like Bayliss who make this a great place to live. Thanks, Marc.