The Brazil City Council is considering a resolution that would allow consumers to continue to have convenient access to cold medication while simultaneously curbing the sale of ephedrine products to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Sponsored by 2nd Ward Councilman Marty Beasley, Ordinance 6-2005 establishes limits on sales of products containing ephe-drine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. The Councilman said he studied ordinances in Vigo County and Terre Haute and customized them to fit local needs. The penalties are lower and fees are not assigned for permits.
"We're not doing this to penalize the retailers," he said, but to deter the manufacture of methamphetamine.
With neighboring counties and areas enacting ordinances regarding the sale of ephedrine-based products, it is likely only a matter of time before persons in other places come to Brazil, Clay County and other areas without ordinances to make their purchases for illegal purposes. Beasley, who was assisted by Mayor Tom Arthur and City Attorney Joe Trout, said his ordinance draft mimics those of Terre Haute and Vigo County.
"They've got an excellent program over there," he said.
Meanwhile, the Council questioned Brazil Police Chief Mark Loudermilk about the need for and possible effect of the ordinance.
"That's something that's very well needed," Loudermilk said, and has the potential to slow down the manufacture of methamphetamine locally, particularly if surrounding communities adopt similar ordinances. The county is also working on an ordinance related to the sale of ephedrine-containing products.
As stated in the proposed ordinance, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine hydrochloride, pseudoeph-edrine hydrochloride, pseudoephedrine sulfate and phenylpropanolamine are active ingredients in all over-the-counter products for allergies and congestion, but in addition to their legal uses, the products are also being purchased and misused by some segments of the community to manufacture the illegal substance dextro methamphetamine. Southwestern Indiana and Brazil specifically have become known to narcotics officers and drug enforcement agents for a high incidence of illicit manufacture, sale and use of dextro methamphetamine, and there is a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare. The cause of that threat is cited in the ordinance as being due to the manufacture, processing, transportation, possession and sales of illicit narcotics and drugs being inherently dangerous, and the chemicals, compounds, substances, byproducts and wastes associated with the manufacture of illicit narcotics and drugs are both dangerous and injurious to the health, welfare and safety of local residents.
Officials have noted an increase in the sales, theft and possession of over-the-counter products that contain ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine hydrochloride, pseudoephe-drine hydrochloride, pseudoephedrine sulfate and phenylpropanolamine, as well as other products associated with the manufacture of dextro methamphetamine. The ordinance indicates that placing restrictions and controls on the purchase of products containing these ingredients will facilitate the tracking and eventual capture of dextro methamphetamine manufacturers and improve the effectiveness of law enforcement and the prevention of drug abuse and resulting crime.
If Ordinance 6-2005 passes, the City will require any persons (businesses) that sell any product containing the ingredients listed on the retail level to apply for an annual permit, which will be free of charge, with the Brazil Clerk-Treasurer. The permit must be posted within the retailer's business in a conspicuous place. Operating a retail store that sells the products without a permit will be considered unlawful, and those who do not apply for the proper permitting will be charged a penalty of $250. The permits may not be sold, assigned or transferred to other retailers, and the permits must bear the name of the retail store, the name of the person to whom the permit is granted, the address of the store and the validity dates. Permits will not be required for prescriptions written by licensed physicians or pharmacists providing the drugs for prescriptions.
The ordinance also sets limits for the sale or purchase of ephedrine products. Customers wishing to purchase cold medicines with any of these ingredients must show identification proving their age as 18 or older, picture identification and current address. The information will be recorded and copied to the Brazil City Police Department by the retailer at the end of each month. Retailers may not sell more than two packages of products containing ephedrine in a single transaction, and customers may not purchase or acquire more than two packages of products containing ephedrine within a seven-day period. Each offense will be considered separately and subject to a fine. Each 24-hour period a violation occurs will be considered a separate offense. Those in violation of any part of the ordinance, if passed, will be fined $500. Each day a violation is committed or permitted to continue, it will constitute a separate offense.
The ordinance also states: "Whereas, the reasonable limitations found in this ordinance on the quantity of products containing ephedrine, pseudoephe-drine, ephedrine hydrochloride, pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, pseudoephe-drine sulfate and phenylpropanolamine that may be sold or purchased by a customer on a single day will assist the county in its effort to combat the insidious criminal methods of illegal methamphetamine manufacturers in the city, and will not unduly restrict legitimate businesses or customers from selling or buying these products."
The Council voted to pass the first reading of the ordinance, which will be on the next meeting's agenda for final approval after its second reading.
The Brazil City Council regularly meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month in Council Chambers at City Hall. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are open to the public.