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Part 3: Meth In Your Back Yard? What To Watch For

A new drug that could block meth-making process from cold tablets.

Sgt. Jason Grellner has been busting meth labs since 1997.  

As president of the Missouri Narcotics Association and commander of the Franklin County Narcotics Unit, which works in conjunction with the St. Louis County Drug Task Force, Greliner has been following meth trends and knows where meth hot spots are around Missouri.

He warns St. Louis County residents that meth is moving to their communities, and as previously reported by Patch, he said he has the numbers to support his claim.

Read Meth In Your Neighborhood: Part 1 and 

"There aren't many crimes we can stop in the end, but meth labs is one we can. And the only reason we haven't is is because the pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars fighting us, and the reason they are spending millions is because they are making billions on pseudoephedrine," Grellner tells Chesterfield Patch.

Grellner said pseudoephedrine sales have spiked in St. Louis County since surrounding counties, including St. Charles and Jefferson counties, have passed ordinances requiring a prescription to purchase the key meth making ingredient. St. Louis County does not have such an ordinance, although some cities within the county do. Chesterfield does not have an ordinance banning over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine.

"If they're buying pseudoephedrine there, they are making meth there," Grellner tells Town and Country - Manchester Patch.

A March 22 meth lab fire in the basement of a home in neighboring Manchester, recently brought the issue of meth to the forefront for some residents. But police tell Patch that overall, they have not had many meth lab-related incidents in recent years, and have not recently noticed an increase.

"This is the second or third instance of making meth in a number of years. So it's unusual here, but it does happen," Manchester Police Chief Tim Walsh told Patch. The city had a meth lab explosion in June 2010, in addition to the recent incident.

"Both resulted in explosion and fire. Arrests were made in each case," Manchester Police Cpt. Charles Hunn stated in an email to Patch.

Hunn also said here was another meth lab incident in Manchester in 2006 or 2007, but that one was a mobile lab—in the trunk of a car.

Grellner points out those mobile meth labs are becoming more popular as criminals are creating more "shake and bake" meth labs where they make the drug by simply using a plastic soda or water bottle. So, although police may not be seeing more labs in homes, Grellner is still convinced meth is moving to St. Louis County.

"West County, South County and North County are going to experience more of that. These people think it's safer to manufacture meth in their moving cars where the cops can't find them, and then they throw the meth lab materials out the window," Grellener explained.

However, he said there are two current projects in the works that he sees as solutions to the problem. One is House Bill 1952 that would make it state law to require people to have a prescription to purchase the drug  pseudoephedrine.

Pharmacists have said the regulation would make their lives easier.

Grellner's other solution is newly-developed products that cannot be converted into meth. 

"Highland Pharmaceuticals has developed a technology that when deployed with the pseudoephedrine, it can be efficacious to the consumer and yet cannot be turned into meth,"  Grellner tells Patch. "You can get the pseudoephedrine you want for your allergies and people just can't make meth out of it."

Grellner said the technology is not yet on the market, but Highland Pharmaceuticals, based in Maryland Heights, already has a major retailer in the St. Louis area interested in carrying the product. Grellner expects it to be available in the next month or two.

He said it's a low-cost alternative.

"Now if anybody argues against it, it's all about the money," Grellner said.

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