E-Tracking system can effectively combat meth production

By Sen. Jim Marleau, 12th Senate District

A 15-year-old girl is forced to take care of her younger sister because their mother is addicted to methamphetamine. A wife endures years of loneliness, lies, theft and pain at the hands of her husband, a meth addict. A 34-year-old chronicles his agonizing descent in a documentary while the drug ravages his body and eventually kills him.

These are true stories of the effects of the devastating drug methamphetamine, or “meth.” Meth is deadly. It kills users and it destroys families.

As chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee, I oversee legislation addressing the problems of such lethal drugs. Recently the committee passed Senate Bill 333, which would implement the National Precursor Law Exchange, or “e-tracking” system. This system blocks the illegal sale of medications containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), one of the primary components used to make meth. But it also maintains consumer access to these medications, which help treat the common cold and allergies.

The process works in a similar way to a credit card system. Under the e-tracking system, pharmacists and retailers can refuse sale of these medications if a purchaser goes over the legal limit. The statewide system provides up-to-the-minute information on PSE purchases and allows law enforcement to identify those who are abusing the system. E-tracking is available at no cost to Michigan taxpayers.

Most importantly, e-tracking has proven effective. Sixteen states have this type of system. In eight of these states, the technology blocks nearly 126,000 grams of illegal PSE sales per month.

Meth addiction leads to sad and horrific endings. Shawn Bridges, the 34-year-old addict who made the documentary about his death, had a heart attack at age 26, his abuse of the drug crippling his heart. In his final months, Shawn wore a catheter and a feeding tube, he spit up blood, and his weight fell severely before he passed away at 35.

Shawn’s story serves as a reminder. We must do what we can to prevent further tragedies. An e-tracking system is the most effective way to prevent the manufacturing of this deadly drug in Michigan.

Senator Jim Marleau is the chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee. He serves the citizens of the 12th Senate District.