Influence of tougher pseudoephedrine laws debated

      Officials work to clear hazardous materials from a recent meth bust in Summerville. (WCIV)

      By Natalie

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A SLED agent's Congressional testimony is shining the light on what he calls South Carolina's meth epidemic.

      "Indirectly, we're all affected by this horrible drug," Lt. Max Dorsey said Tuesday.

      Before Congress' oversight committee, Dorsey talked about the increase in meth production in our state. Only half the year has gone by and already the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) shows 302 reports of labs.

      "It's a problem that has to be addressed, and it's a drastic problem," Charleston County Sheriff's Office Lt. Patrick Morris said. "Once it's secured, we'll go in and clean up the lab."

      Lt. Morris says the metro/narcotics unit keeps busy and says they're always investigating meth lab tips. The El Paso Intelligence Center ranks South Carolina as one of the top ten meth manufacturing states in the nation.

      "It's staggering," South Carolina Representative Peter McCoy, (R) Charleston, said.

      Rep. McCoy sits on the Statehouse's judiciary committee.

      "They're bought anywhere you can go. So, it's not like you have to wait on the street corner to get an illegal substance to start building your meth," McCoy said.

      Currently, the laws target the purchasing of products that can make meth, usually cold medicines, that have ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. There's a limit on the amount that can be purchased.

      But Dorsey says it's not working. Instead, during his testimony Tuesday, he pointed to Oregon and Mississippi, which passed laws requiring a prescription for those medicines.

      "I think that's a little bit harsh. I think that's a little bit tough. I think we need to focus more on personal responsibility here, and I don't want to make good folks who have to go out and buy these things have to jump through these hoops," McCoy said.

      Right now in South Carolina, anyone convicted of making meth faces up to 15 years in jail.