KDHE Home - Division of Environment - Meth Watch
Kansas Meth Watch Program
Precursor Control Efforts:
The Kansas Legislature passed The Mathew Samuels Chemical Control Act in 2005 with the following restrictions:
OTC medications containing pseudoephedrine may only be sold by licensed pharmacists. There is a limit of no more than 3.6 grams in a single transaction and no more than 9 grams in a 30 day period. Photo identification and signature is required. Purchaser must be at least 18 years of age.
Lab seizures were reduced up to 80% after this law took effect since it placed restrictions on the main ingredient. Many manufacturers started marketing alternative medications that do not contain pseudoephedrine so they can be sold without restrictions and won’t contribute to the illegal meth production problem.
Many consumers found that they still prefer pseudoephedrine for their decongestants.Since consumers must ask for the products, the seller should be able to advise on how much may be bought at a time (some store policies may vary and be less than actually allowed by law). The law does prevent an honest consumer from stocking up beyond a month’s supply for one person or typical small family but the benefits of the law outweigh this inconvenience.
Typical quantity of pseudoephedrine contained in common medications:
- Medications advertised as “12 hour” or “extended release” which may contain other medications like antihistamines for multi-symptom relief-
This type of medication normally contains 120 milligrams of pseudoephedrine per tablet so two 12 tablet boxes (or one 24 tablet box) will result in a total of 2.88 grams purchased. (three 12 tablet boxes would be over the limit)
- Original form of single dose pseudoephedrine (small red pill)-
This type of medication normally contains 30 milligrams of pseudoephedrine per tablet so two 48 tablet boxes (or one 96 tablet box) will result in a total of 2.88 grams purchased. (three 48 tablet boxes would be over the limit)
Consumers should be aware that some stores may be more restrictive than the law and prevent customers from purchasing as much as allowed by law per transaction. Some stores may also restrict the liquid cap medications even though the law doesn’t restrict liquid medications containing pseudoephedrine (liquid formulations are unusable for meth production).
New Developments in Pseudoephedrine Sales:
A general decline in number of meth labs in Kansas resulted after the passage of the Mathew Samuels Chemical Control Act in 2005 but meth lab numbers started rising again in 2008. Law enforcement had found that meth cooks and their associates were working around the pseudoephedrine limits by traveling from one pharmacy to another to purchase maximum quantities of pseudoephedrine for use in meth manufacturing. Some nationwide chain stores have their own database to track purchases but many do not. Law enforcement had to retrieve this history from one store or nationwide chain at a time to discover this activity.
A new law was passed during the Kansas 2008-2009 legislative session to combat this problem. Kansas Bill 248 authorizes a statewide electronic logging system for meth precursors. This database will be networked with every vendor in the state. Law enforcement will be able to monitor the database to spot patterns of illegal purchase activity. It is another tool they may use for combating the meth problem. This system collects the following information upon purchase:
* Name, address and signature of purchaser
* Name of product and quantity purchased
* Date and time of purchase
* Name or initials of licensed pharmacist/pharmacy staff
Information is submitted in real time to database
Logs are not public record
Legitimate consumers should not fear this system, as the pharmacy should assist the customer on their single transaction limits. Just remember to avoid going over the monthly limit by being aware of the ingredients in the OTC medications that are purchased, especially during the cold, flu, and allergy seasons.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Meth Watch?
- What are "Precursors"?
- What are the Meth Ingredients and Equipment?
- What's in it for Retailers?
- What does the Meth Lab Program Involve?
- Please Help Kansas
What is Meth Watch?
KDHE and KBI felt an urgent need to curtail drug lab activity by making the theft or purchase of the main precursor, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine containing products, more difficult. The Kansas Meth Watch Program was designed by KDHE, KBI, and a team of Kansas retailers to limit the accessibility of these precursors, as well as raise the general awareness of the meth lab problem in Kansas. Kansas retailers selling the ingredients or equipment are encouraged to participate in this important initiative.
If you've noticed the increase in theft or large quantity purchases of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine or other precursor products, your store is likely, and involuntarily, contributing to the deadly meth problem in Kansas. Participating in Meth Watch will decrease theft and the likelihood of "meth cookers" viewing your store as a supplier in their drug production.
The Meth Watch Program has grown in scope from retailers to include farm suppliers, veterinarians, community organizers, drug use prevention organizations, and law enforcement.
What are "Precursors"?
Meth is made using readily available products obtained from retail, convenience, grocery, and veterinary supply stores. Over the counter cold and allergy medications often contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, the most critical ingredients in the production of methamphetamine.
The manufacturing process also uses ingredients, such as lithium batteries, acetone, starter fluid, drain cleaner, rock or table salt, lye, matchbooks, rubbing alcohol, muriatic acid, gasoline additives, such as methanol, and iodine. As you can see, these are items available in many stores and most are probably in your house or garage.
Anhydrous ammonia is another precursor commonly used in the a meth cook. However, the anhydrous ammonia is usually stolen from nurse tanks or anhydrous ammonia distribution facilities commonly operated by local farmers' cooperatives. Anhydrous ammonia is extremely dangerous since it vents as a gas at a temperature of minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Thieves commonly will damage the valves or hose on the distribution tanks or nurse tanks and this could cause a life threatening situation. If an unsuspecting employee or farmer is unaware of the damage to a hose they may open the valve potentially allowing anhydrous ammonia to escape and even fatally injure the individuals due to chemical and temperature burns.
The availability of the products needed for producing meth contributes to the growing meth problem in our state. Because meth users become their own drug suppliers by becoming meth "cooks," the dangers associated with the labs themselves increase the urgency of a retailer assistance program.
Meth "Ingredients and Equipment"
- Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine(cold or allergy tablets);
- Lithium batteries;
- Starter Fluid;
- Rock or table salt;
- Drain cleaner;
- Camping fuel;
- Sulfuric Acid;
- Heet" (gas additives);
- Paint thinner;
- Brake Cleaner;
- Muriatic Acid;
- Anhydrous Ammonia;
- Coffee Filters;
- Aluminum Foil
- Assorted glassware;
- Propane Tanks;
- Plastic Soda Bottles;
What's in it for Retailers and Communities?
The most common question asked by a retail stores and communities considering starting a Meth Watch Program is "How will my store or community benefit from participating in the Meth Watch Program?" The benefits to the include a combination of social, economic, and safety factors as follows:
Social: Most citizens of Kansas are very concerned about the availability of drugs in their neighborhoods. Helping law enforcement fight the war on drugs provides community awareness for the store owner and the community.
Economic: The goal of Meth Watch is to limit the sale or theft of precursors for improper use. Precursors can be easily identified by shelf tags under the products, which will deter cooks from approaching the products due to increased awareness of the illegal use of the products. The precursors not limited due to sales restrictions or product management will still be identified making employees and customers another pair of eyes for your store. Increased awareness by store employees, shoppers, and the meth "cooks" in the stores will hopefully reduce the theft of precursors. Theft of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine related drugs in Kansas is controllable as shown in the chart below. Furthermore, reducing meth manufacturing and use in your county decreases the direct expenses of dealing with the human and legal expenses that shy rocket as labs and users get arrested. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Safety: The Retail Team believes that customers will feel safer in your store if you take a proactive approach to preventing improper purchases or theft of the precursor items. Often meth "cooks" are on a drug induced high and possibly feeling paranoid, or worse yet are aggressive making employee and customer safety an issue. Meth Watch hopes to capitalize on the paranoia and make the "cook" want to go elsewhere for the purchase or theft. Strong interaction with the local law enforcement also helps provide that sense of safety if you work with them to report suspicious activity. Meth Watch strongly supports the exchange of information with law enforcement officials.
Increased employee awareness of our meth problem will provide your business and community the resources to be a responsible stewards and assist in the fight against crime and drugs. Your business will benefit from a more aggressive stance on clandestine drug labs in the state in addition to the goodwill your involvement will produce in the community. Take a look at the chart below from one retailer in Kansas found after starting a Meth Watch Program in its stores.
The Meth Watch Program Involves:
What's Next? Do you know what steps to follow next if you have decided that the Meth Watch Program could have a positive influence on your business or community? The Meth Watch Program has many options to choose from and the options chosen depend on the type of store, layout, manpower, the level of community involvement, etc. The main areas of the program include: training, signage, product management, and suspicious activity reporting.
Employee and Management Training -
Training Poster - Meth Watch provides a training poster that when posted in the employee break room will provide repeated exposure to the types of products that commonly purchased or stolen for a meth cook.
Training Video Tape - Meth Watch has produced a videotape that depicts common items purchased for meth lab and how employees should handle the situation. The video discusses common management practices that may help deter the theft of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine containing products and other precursors. This video is a useful training tool for all levels of staff and can be watched by new employees or used for safety training.
Signage - The Meth Watch program focuses on creating an awareness of why certain products, or a variety of products, are stolen or purchased in abnormally high quantities. Placement of shelf tags, stickers, decals, etc. helps store employees and the general public become more familiar with these products. Paranoid meth "cooks" will not want people watching them linger around these target products. Cash register stickers are placed at the checkout counter as a final reminder that these store employees are aware of the meth problem. The stickers also remind the checkout clerk to be on the lookout for suspicious purchases. The Kansas Meth Watch Advisory Team members believe that the signage serves the dual purpose of putting criminals on notice and letting good customers know your store is taking steps to reduce the production of methamphetamine. Street signs put meth cooks on notice that the community is on the lookout for the suspicious activity that accompanies meth manufacturing and use, and warns them to stay out.
Product Management - Product management addresses the strategic placement of precursor products in areas that will help deter theft or suspicious purchases of large quantities. Customers will often question why the products are not as readily available, but in most cases a brief explanation of Meth Watch by handing them a brochure or info sheet will satisfy their questions and they will typically show a strong support for the program. Some strategic management practices include the following:
- Limit quantity of product available on the shelf: By limiting the quantity of product on the shelf, the store may be able to reduce the amount of theft or excessive purchases. Many stores already implement this policy due to theft problems. This will cause a higher frequency of restocking, but typically reduce the large quantity theft.
- Limit quantity of product that may be purchased: Limiting the purchase quantity means that a customer will only be able to purchase a certain amount of the product at the checkout counter. The quantity can vary depending on store policy, but 3 - 5 packages is common. A disadvantage is that stores implementing this policy typically need computerized cash register systems that track the quantity of purchase. A computerized system is not necessary if the store is comfortable with relying on their employees to enforce the policy.
- Placement of product near high traffic areas: Placing product at the end of an aisle near the checkout counters, customer service, or a pharmacy helps deter the theft of the product. Thieves do not like to be observed stealing product so they will be more likely to stay away from the high profile areas.
- Providing surveillance on the product aisle: Providing video surveillance on the product and informing the customer that the aisle is under surveillance is similar to the high traffic areas because the thief does not want to get caught stealing the product. Surveillance equipment can get expensive; therefore, theft is typically the main reason for a system installation.
- Placement of product behind a service counter: When product is behind the counter in a pharmacy, customer service area or cash register, the customer must ask for the product. Typically, a shelf tag is left on the main shelf area and includes the product name, price and directs the customer to the service counter. A few stores are even requiring the customer to sign their name or show an ID to receive the product, however Meth Watch does not require customer identification for purchase. Once again, customer inconvenience can be an issue, but most customers understand why the store has implemented the policy.
Reporting Suspicious Transactions -Meth "cooks" can be dangerous when they come to a retail facility for more ingredients. Paranoia and aggressiveness caused by a drug induced high can cause a "cook" to become angry if confronted about a theft or improper purchase. KDHE and KBI recommend that employees do not confront the suspect, but instead follow through with the transaction rather than putting themselves in danger. When the suspect leaves the store, the clerk or manager should complete a suspicious transaction report and provide the information to the local law enforcement and/or KBI as soon as possible. The form should contain as much information as possible. Please note the date and time on the report. The state wide reporting number is 1-800-KS-Crime (1-800-572-7463). KDHE and KBI strongly encourage working closely with local law enforcement agencies to create a working relationship that can benefit the store and the community.
View our Meth Watch Training Video to see if it will be useful to you. Copies are available from the Kansas Meth Watch Program.
- Kansas Meth Watch Training Video (10 MB)
- Transcript for Kansas Meth Watch Training Video - Text Alternative
The Kansas Meth Watch Program has a Rural Chance Encounter Training Video. Take a look at it and see if it can help you become more aware about meth in your community, or use it in your community meth prevention program. Copies of this video are available. View and download the videos from the links below.
- Rural Chance Encounter Training Video (29 MB) View using Quicktime.
- Rural Chance Encounter Training Video (29.5 MB) View using Windows Media Player.
- Transcript for Rural Chance Encounter Training Video - Text Alternative
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) offers the use of its trademarked Meth Watch logo and its program to any interested non-profit, governmental, or for-profit organizations. Call (785) 368-7301 for details or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Street Signs - If you are a community and would like to use the Meth Watch Street Sign to warn meth cooks that your community is on the lookout for suspicious activities then ask for the new street sign. These are available for governmental organizations that want to reduce meth related crime and activities in your community.
Customers are greeted at the door with the Kansas Meth Watch Program Retailer Member decal that is visible from both sides of the door for better identification and customer awareness.
While shopping customers will see the shelf tag shown at left clearly showing which products have been identified as methamphetamine precursors. Meth cooks also see the additional attention their favorite product are getting, so they might not want to spend much time in the area with the shelf tags.
When ready to pay for their items, customers and meth cooks are reminded that the store and its employees are watching for suspicious activity concerning methamphetamine precursors. Customers tend to feel that the store is a safer place while meth cooks feel like they are being watched. When meth cooks feel uncomfortable they will want to take their "business" elsewhere.
Meth Watch provides customer information to improve customer appreciation of what the store owner, manager and employees are trying to achieve by getting involved with the Kansas Meth Watch Program. Customer information pads can be kept at each check out location for easy access by the clerk to provide printed information on the program.
Meth Watch provides employee-training tools such as a video and poster. KDHE recommends placing the posters in break rooms for where employees can easily refer to it.
Meth Watch has limited quantities of street signs for communities that have a governmental organization willing to install the signs with one-way screws or bolts. Coordinating with the police and public works department in your town or county is all that is necessary.
Meth Watch has brochures for your hunt club or outdoors groups that can come upon meth lab wastes in recreational areas. "This is no picnic" describes what to do if you have one of those chance encounters with meth labs.
Meth Mouth has become a problem that dentists and health department workers see all too frequently. This brochure describes the effects of meth and lists some ways users can get help.
Meth Watch Meth Mouth Poster can be used by any organization where people can see the effects of meth on teeth. Often health departments, schools, and health professionals have this 8.5" X 11" poster on the bulletin board or on the wall where the public can see the photos.
Please Help Kansas
To become a partner in the Meth Watch program, please call please call (785) 266-8666. It will only cost you the price of a phone call. We will send you a program packet containing required decals, posters, Suspicious Transaction Reports and training materials. To further assist your organization in this effort, a detailed list of recommended actions is also included, as well as stickers, decals and public awareness fact sheets. Program staff can also provide tips on how to set up a retail store with the Meth Watch materials.
If you would like to sign up for the Kansas Meth Watch Program or have additional questions please contact us by:
- Calling the Meth Watch Program at (785) 266-8666
- Mail a request to:
- Kansas Methamphetamine Prevention Project
2209 SW 29th Street
Topeka, KS 66611