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Part 2: Is Meth Moving Into Your Neighborhood?

A drug agent had a meth lab blow up in his face and said it can happen to a curious child just as easily.

, has been busting meth labs since 1997, but all that experience did not prevent a "shake and bake" meth lab from exploding in his face.

"I'm missing 27 percent of my lungs," said Grellner, who is also president of the Missouri Narcotics Association. "I opened a container sitting in a driveway." 

If that can happen to an experienced drug agent, it can happen to any curious child who stumbles upon a plastic bottle or an adult who is picking up what is thought to simply be trash, Grellner said. This is especially true since the "shake and bake" meth lab, which uses a plastic soda or water bottle, is becoming increasingly more popular.

"I dump my meth lab in your front yard, and your kids go out to play, or your kid picks up a soda bottle and gets burned. Or someone throws an active meth lab out their car window, and you pick the bottle up when it's sitting along the road," he said. "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."

Grellner said 90 to 95 percent of the meth labs area drug task forces find are the "shake and bake" method, made out of a two-liter bottle or a 20-ounce water bottle.  

"We had a guy making meth in a backpack walking down a road. We've probably had 10 to a dozen car fires last year from meth labs, and it's not while the cars are parked on the side of the road," Grellner told Patch.

St. Charles and Jefferson counties require a doctor's prescription to purchase the key meth-making material, pseudoephedrine, but St. Louis County does not have a prescription-only ordinance. Grellner said this is resulting in meth moving into St. Louis County, and he has the numbers to prove it. 

"When I talk to drug task force commanders...they tell me the labs they now find, the pseudoephedrine they now find in meth labs comes from St. Louis County," he said. 

Grellner said drug agents are tracking pseudoephedrine purchased on a monthly basis and right now, purchases of the drug in St. Louis County are 300 to 400 percent higher than in past years. In the past, on average, chain pharmacies were selling approximately 200 to 300 boxes of pseudoephedrine each month.

"The Creve Coeur CVS on Olive (11560 Olive Blvd.) sold over 11,068 boxes in February," Grellner said. 

However, the number one spot in the area for purchasing pseudoephedrine right now is Fenton. The city is currently considering a prescription-only ordinance. 

"Fenton is huge. All pharmacies are selling over 5,000 boxes a month in a town of 4,200 people or so," Grellner said. "Every meth lab I go to, at least one box (of pseudoephedrine) I find there has been bought in Fenton."

Grellner said when the key drug to make meth is being bought in St. Louis County, it is also being made here. 

"I can tell you we are seeing people not just coming to St. Louis County to buy, they're coming to St. Louis County to live. These people are criminals. They don't have a good drivers license. They don't have insurance. They'll burglarize. They are criminals," he said. "Here's the question people need to ask themselves: 'Is this the people I want coming into my community? Do I want them manufacturing meth while driving down Manchester Road at 40 miles an hour in five lanes of traffic?'"

Grellner is working to pass a statewide law, House Bill 1952, which would require a prescription to purchase pseudoephedrine. It would also allow an exemption for some newly developed products that can't be made into meth. A Maryland Heights pharmaceutical company has developed a technology that can prevent pseudoephedrine from being used to make meth. Grellner expects that to be available in the St. Louis market in the next month or so. 

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Richard April 30, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Should cakes, sweets or MacDonald’s be banned because some people eat too much? Should alcohol be banned because some people drink too much? I don’t know much about methamphetamine but I do know about amphetamine sulphate. For the addict amphetamine sulphate is very damaging, just like alcohol is for the alcoholic. My experience with drugs (and I should know because I use to sell drugs) is that some people, a tiny minority become addicts. The vast majority of people get enjoyment from drugs and suffer no ill effects. Think of alcohol, how many people’s lives are destroyed because of alcohol, and how many people enjoy alcohol. If alcohol was illegal today it would be a class-A drug and the news headlines would show only the addicts whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol. Why not allow people that want to take drugs the freedom to do so and help the people who become addicted. If a man or woman becomes addicted to gambling they have the option to opt out or ban themselves from a casino. Recreational drugs should be sold from controlled venues allowing people to opt out if they feel they have a problem, or for the police to have the power to opt someone out if they are causing problems within the community because of drugs. A huge amount of tax payer’s money is wasted on the prohibition of drugs, most of the dangers are down to the fact that they are illegal, its time to end the war on drugs.

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