PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- People who make methamphetamine may think twice about shopping in South Dakota if merchants track purchases of cold and allergy medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, legislators were told Wednesday.
Those substances are key ingredients in meth, a powerful drug that is becoming more prevalent and can be made by amateurs in clandestine labs.
Jeremy Buchholz, a reformed meth addict and former meth maker, said the drug causes paranoia, and knowing stores are logging sales would deter meth makers in South Dakota.
"I can't imagine writing my name on a log in Wal-Mart," he said.
SB207, sent unanimously Wednesday to the House floor by the Health Committee, would force retailers to keep products with pseudoephedrine and ephedrine behind the counter or protected by anti-theft devices.
The Senate removed a provision of the bill last week that would have ordered merchants to maintain logs of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine purchases for two years. Retailers have argued that the logs would be burdensome, but Gov. Mike Rounds insisted that the logs should be required.
The House committee reinstated the logging procedure Wednesday with some changes. The bill now would require retailers to regularly supply sheriffs with the names and birth dates of those who buy restricted cold medicines.
Retailers would have to keep the records for only 30 days.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said sheriffs could search the records for multiple purchases and anything that looks suspicious. SB207 would place only a minimal burden on retailers, he said.
Iowa has seen an 80 percent reduction in meth-lab busts since enacting a similar law, Milstead added.
Dick Tieszen, a lobbyist for sheriffs, said they are willing to take on the extra duty to combat the devastating effects of meth use.
"Meth is the drug of choice now," Tieszen said. "This is a real problem for our state."
Mike Shaw, a lobbyist for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, said store logs are a good method of deterring meth production. Pfizer supports putting its products behind the counter even though it hurts sales, he said.
"I'd rather have my kid try heroin than try methamphetamine," Shaw said.
Chuck Schroyer, a lobbyist for prosecutors, said merchants who sell cold medicines would be required to do no more than pawn shops already do to track stolen goods.
Store owners recognize that meth is a problem, and they don't mind keeping ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products behind the counter, said Jim Hood, lobbyist for the South Dakota Retailers Association.
But Hood said merchants object to the task of logging sales.
Buchholz urged the committee to pass the bill. He said his involvement with meth led to other illegal activities like burglary and gun charges.
"I cannot state how much this will mean to our communities," Buchholz said. "This is the least we can do."
A 2005 law limits people to the purchase of two packages of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, but officials have said some people are going to several stores or going back into the same stores several times to get larger quantities.
SB207 would enable a person with a doctor's prescription to buy more than two packages at a time.