"Barbara Leff has a proven record of strong leadership and experience in supporting the criminal justice system, law enforcement and the Fraternal Order of Police. F.O.P. members firmly believe Barbara Leff is clearly the best candidate to lead Arizona into a new era and at the same time resolve the serious issues facing our great state."

- Fraternal Order of Police, 2006 Endorsement


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This article appeared as a "My Turn" column in the Arizona Republic in 2005.

Methamphetamine abuse is a serious problem that affects entire communities. Whether the drug is brought into this country or is produced in neighborhood labs, methamphetamine use is a severe threat. Meth users are violent and uncontrollable. Meth manufacturers are a danger to all as a result of the toxic nature of the "cooking" process.

The Attorney General has been very vocal in trying to address this problem by following Oklahoma’s lead. The problem with the Oklahoma plan is that it focuses on tracking the purchase of cold and allergy medications by putting these items behind the pharmacy counter and by requiring everyone buying cold medications to sign a log book. This can cause very serious negative consequences.

By contrast, Senate Bill 1473 puts the focus of the law on the people who are causing this horrible problem in our communities. It increases penalties by requiring life imprisonment for anyone cooking meth in the presence of a minor. It also removes the possibility of bail for anyone having a prior offense related to dangerous drugs.

SB1473 does restrict the amount of pseudoephedrine products that can be sold at any one time to a reasonable amount a person might need, approximately three packages. It does not, however, take it off the shelves and does not try to second guess how much a person might need for a family over a month period. The Oklahoma plan only allows three packages in an entire month.

SB1473 addresses the problem of increasing penalties for meth manufacturers without creating undue hardships on law abiding people. The Oklahoma plan advocated by the AG creates a false sense of security by assuming that making people sign a log book to purchase cold medicines would somehow stop meth manufacturers from being able to obtain the product.

The theory behind the log book is that law enforcement could track people who purchase more than three packages of cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine within a one month period and then investigate those people. The reality is that meth manufacturers and dealers in Arizona are already recognized by law enforcement as the largest group of identity theft offenders. Every time there is a successful drug raid, law enforcement finds hundreds of fake IDs. So, the log book signed by someone purchasing the product for use in meth manufacturing will be signed by someone using different fake IDs at each store. This is hardly valuable as a tracing tool.

If Arizona were to require a log book, we would be setting up the very frightening scenario of actually helping to facilitate meth related ID theft. A person buying the drugs for meth manufacturing, while signing the log book, could take out a camera phone and photograph the log entries on that page or even steal the book itself. That person would now have the name, driver's license number and signature of every law abiding person who signed the log book. 

Pharmacists are already very busy. Under the Oklahoma plan they would have to check pages and pages of entries over the entire month period to see if the consumer had passed the monthly limit imposed by the plan. That plan would also put anyone with a large family or anyone planning a vacation and needing additional medication to take on the trip at risk of being investigated as a possible meth manufacturer. Further, stores that do not have pharmacies would no longer be able to sell those products, limiting the consumer's ability to get relief from colds and allergies when pharmacies are closed.

We need to act forcefully to stop the manufacture, sale and use of methamphetamines. Putting the focus on the ones breaking the law is the answer, not making life difficult for cold and allergy sufferers. SB 1473 will do just that without creating undue hardship and without increasing the possibility of increased identity theft.