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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation Wednesday to require tablets that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which can used to make methamphetamine, be kept behind a counter and sold only by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, the Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported.
"These bills will keep the key ingredients needed to make meth … out of the hands of drug manufacturers and, by so doing, will put them out of business," Blunt said in a statement.
The new law, effective in 30 days, is contained in two bills Blunt signed Wednesday in ceremonies in Kirksville, Hannibal, Jackson, Springfield and Joplin.
Missouri's new law also:
-- Requires customers buying pseudoephedrine products to be at least 18.
-- Says customers must provide photo identification to a pharmacist.
-- Requires pharmacists to keep a log of customers buying such products and make it available for inspection by law enforcement officials.
-- Limits purchases of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine tablets to no more than nine grams per month, or 300 tablets. A typical box contains 24 tablets, so the law still allows customers to buy plenty of medicine.
Violation of the law is a misdemeanor.
The new restrictions do not apply to liquid medications with pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, or to liquid-filled gel capsules, which are more difficult to use in making meth.
That exception was important to retailer groups like the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Ron Leone, the organization’s executive director, said convenience stores were "the only game in town" for much of rural Missouri and for those who needed medicine in the middle of the night.
"I think since we crafted a solution [to exempt liquids and gel capsules], we’re OK with it," he said.
At least 16 other states have passed similar laws restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine products after Oklahoma last year passed a law that officials there say has dramatically curtailed meth production.
Several bills have been introduced in Congress to enact a similar law nationwide.
Missouri has led the nation in meth lab seizures for the last several years. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, there were 2,788 meth labs seized in 2004. Also, a 2003 law in Missouri required products with pseudoephedrine or ephedrine to be placed behind the checkout counter or close to it, the report stated.