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State Seal Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Announces Legislation to Combat Kentucky’s Methamphetamine Problem
Press Release Date:  February 02, 2005

Doug Hogan
Jeannie Lausche
Chris Gilligan
Jamie Neal


Plan Addresses Key Ingredient, At-risk Children, Manufacturing

Frankfort, KY - Standing before a crowd at a Kroger pharmacy today, Governor Ernie Fletcher, Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence and the Attorney General’s Office announced a comprehensive measure to effectively address the growing crisis of methamphetamine production and use in Kentucky.

“We must take action to stop the potentially fatal practices of producing and using methamphetamine in the Commonwealth and to protect our citizens from the explosive meth labs that could be living right next door to them. We need to keep our children safe from the chemicals and volatile nature of these labs,” said Governor Fletcher. “We have reached out to many people and groups on this issue, and the consensus is that this is right for Kentucky.”

Senator Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, will sponsor the legislation.

The plan would restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine in tablet form  - the key ingredient in meth production - to pharmacies, limit the amount purchased and require customers to present identification and sign for the medication. The proposal also calls for a new section of law that sets out penalties for those who expose children to meth labs, and it specifies that two or more chemicals or pieces of equipment and intent substantiates a manufacturing charge.

“When I served as U.S. Attorney, I witnessed the devastating impact methamphetamine had on families in the Western District of Kentucky. However, as the drug becomes popular throughout the state, we need to be vigilant in our efforts to stop this scourge,” said Lieutenant Governor Pence. “Today, we are proud to propose this initiative.”

In the last seven years - from 1998 through 2004 - the instances of meth labs in Kentucky increased by nearly 3,000 percent - from 19 labs to 579.  In the last five years alone, the number of labs has jumped by more than 450 percent - from 104 labs in 2000 to 579 in 2004.

The portion of the Kentucky legislation pertaining to pseudoephedrine is patterned after a measure Oklahoma enacted in April 2004. Since then, the number of responses to meth labs in Oklahoma has dropped from 130 in March to 38 in October.

Attorney General Greg Stumbo said he is committed to reducing the meth crisis in Kentucky as well.

“The Office of the Attorney General is committed to working with all law enforcement agencies and Kentucky citizens to attack the methamphetamine epidemic,” Stumbo said. “Our Kentucky Bureau of Investigation will continue its work with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate businesses licensed to sell precursor chemicals, such as pseudoephedrine, needed to manufacture meth. KBI agents will also continue to use the KASPER system to detect prescription fraud and drug diversion. I applaud Governor Fletcher, Lt. Governor Pence, the Kentucky State Police and the DEA for the cooperation they have shown over the past 12 months.”

Additional Information on Governor Fletcher’s 2005 Methamphetamine Initiative

Current Condition

  • Kentucky has a growing problem with methamphetamine abuse and production.
  • Methamphetamine labs increased by more than 633% from 1999 to 2003.
  • From 1998 through 2004, the instances of meth labs increased by nearly 3,000 percent – from 19 labs in 1998 to 579 in 2004.  
  • In the last five years, the number of labs has jumped by more than 450 percent – from 104 labs in 2000 to 579 in 2004.  
  • In 1998, the number of children in Kentucky found to be involved at meth labs was three. In 2000, the number was 33. In 2004, there were an estimated 87 children in the presence of hazardous chemicals that were about to be or being used to produce meth.  
  • Methamphetamine production and its use create an extreme danger to Kentucky’s children.  Nearly 150 children have been involved in meth labs within the past two years. 
  • Past efforts have not reduced the problem.

2004 Statewide Drug Control Assessment Summit

  • Frustration was expressed by law enforcement with present laws.
  • Law Enforcement needs help with legislation to address: 
    The availability of precursors; 
    Child endangerment; 
    Certain language in the current manufacturing statutes. 


Why This Issue Is Important

  • The number of small, independent methamphetamine labs is growing at an alarming rate, with 579 labs in 2004.
  • The public, law enforcement, treatment providers and prevention specialists are all frustrated by the growing methamphetamine problem.
  • Each time a meth lab is discovered, Kentucky’s first responders are placed at risk.
  • Cleaning up the average methamphetamine lab costs from $2,000 to $5,000 per site.
  • The 2003 National Drug Threat Survey report surveyed Kentucky law enforcement - 
    86% reported that methamphetamine availability was moderate to high; 
    67% reported that methamphetamine production was moderate to high; 
    38% reported that methamphetamine was the greatest drug threat to our state.
  • Kentucky’s children are being placed at risk. In 1998, three children were involved at meth lab sites; in 2004 that number is 87.
  • Meth labs have been reported in 89 of our 120 counties.
  • Treatment admissions increased by 52% for methamphetamine addiction between 1998-2003.

Highlights of Proposed Legislation

  • Create a new section of KRS Chapter 218A – Controlled Substance Endangerment - first through fourth degree. 
    Permitting a child to be present near a hazardous chemical with the intent to      manufacture a controlled substance will be a:
          - fourth-degree offense if there is no injury – Class D felony; 
          - third-degree offense if there is a physical injury – Class C felony; 
          - second-degree offense if there is a serious physical injury – Class B felony; 
          - First-degree offense if there is a child death – Class A felony.
  • Change KRS 218A 1432, the manufacturing statute, to read that “two or more chemicals or two or more items of equipment with the intent to manufacture” meets the elements of manufacturing.  This will assist law enforcement in light of the Kotila decision that states that all chemicals need to be present to substantiate a manufacturing charge.
  • Restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine in tablet form. Require pseudoephedrine to be dispensed only at pharmacies and require identification and signature for purchase. Limit the amount purchased to 9 grams per person in a 30-day period.
  • Allow for Civil Remedies to be sought by the Attorney General, Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet or any Commonwealth Attorney for persons trafficking in precursors or manufacturing methamphetamine.
  • Penalize persons using a firearm in furtherance of an offense.

Comparison to Other States


  • Oklahoma was the first state to restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine – the key ingredient in meth production – to pharmacies and require identification and signature for purchase.
  • Since the law was enacted April 1, 2004, Oklahoma has seen a significant decrease in meth labs.
  • In 2003, the state of Oklahoma averaged 103 labs per month. From April to October 2004, that number decreased to 56 per month, resulting in a 45% reduction.
  • During 2004, Oklahoma City Police Department saw a 50% drop in labs from 2003.
  • Tulsa Police Department saw a 38% reduction in 2004 from 2003.
  • During the legislative process, Oklahoma did not experience organized opposition from retailers or pharmacists.

 Other States

  • Twenty states are considering legislation that would impose restrictions on common cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine.
  • Indiana has introduced House Bill 1044, which restricts the sale of pseudoephedrine to pharmacies and classifies pseudoephedrine as a Class V controlled substance.
  • Missouri has introduced Senate Bill 10 which restricts the sale of pseudoephedrine to pharmacies and classifies pseudoephedrine as a Class V controlled substance.
  • Illinois currently limits amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased to two boxes per sale and requires training for all retail employees.
  • When neighboring states limit the availability of pseudoephedrine, Kentucky will become the destination for criminals seeking the product unless we also limit the availability.



Last updated: Thursday, June 02, 2005