"By placing restrictions on the ingredients needed to produce this dangerous drug, the new law will be an important weapon in our fight against meth," Easley said. "Combined with our tough criminal penalties, this bill puts North Carolina on the map as a state with zero tolerance for meth."
Officials said they have identified 263 meth labs in North Carolina with over 80 labs found in McDowell and Rutherford counties combined.
House Bill 248 will require that all single- and multi-source tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, ingredients found in certain cold medications, be sold behind a pharmacy counter. Purchasers must be at least 18 years old, show photo ID and sign a log to buy these products.
The bill was supported by Attorney General Roy Cooper and sponsored by Sen. Walter Dalton (D-Cleveland, Rutherford), Rep. Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake) and Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland).
"These secret drug labs are destroying communities and families," said Attorney General Roy Cooper. "If criminals cannot get the main ingredient, they cannot keep making this dangerous drug that makes our children sick and pollutes our environment."
The law will limit purchases of these products to no more than two packages at one time and no more than three packages within 30 days without a prescription. Most liquid and gel cap forms of these cold remedies will remain available for sale on store shelves because, according to the State Bureau of Investigation, there have been no meth labs reported in North Carolina that have used gels and liquids to make the drug.
Under the new law, retailers of pseudoephedrine products will also be required to record information about each purchaser, and maintain records of these sales for at least two years. Training will also be provided for employees of establishments where pseudoephedrine products are sold.
House Bill 248 was modeled after a similar meth law passed last year in Oklahoma. That law has helped to reduce meth labs in the state by 85 percent.
The law will go into effect for all retailers in January 2006, but some places such as Target and Wal-Mart are already putting the medicine behind the counters.