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Cooper nudges meth bill

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a statement Wednesday morning giving a push to a bill cracking down on methamphetamine production, which is on the House floor in the afternoon.

“Meth labs threaten our communities with crime, addiction, and even fires, explosions and toxic chemicals,” Cooper said in the statement. “We’re working hard to find and stop these dangerous drug labs, and stronger laws will help us.”

HB29 would make it a felony for someone who has been convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine to possess products containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient of the drug that is also found in cold medicines. It would also impose tougher penalties for making methamphetamine around children, the elderly or the disabled.

Cooper says there has been a recent surge in meth labs in North Carolina, reaching a new high last year in part because cookers discovered an easier method to make the drug in smaller batches. State Bureau of Investigation agents dealt with 460 meth labs in 2012 compared to 344 in 2011 and 235 in 2010, according to the attorney general’s office. So far this year, 70 labs have already been raided.

Update: The House overwhelmingly approved the bill.

Study: Salvia in use at colleges

Salvia has been tried by a significant number of college students.

According to a 2007 study published in the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 4.4 percent of 1,516 college students surveyed in the Southwest had used Salvia divinorum at least once in the previous year.

That was comparable to the number of students who reported using ecstasy (5 percent) and cocaine (7.1 percent), but more than heroin (less than 1 percent) and methamphetamine (1.2 percent). Nearly 35 percent reported using marijuana.

Those most likely to have tried it were students most at risk for drug use, including "whites, males, fraternity members, (and) heavy episodic drinkers," the study found. More than 10 percent of drug users surveyed had tried the herb.

The article also says that there have been no large-scale studies of the use of Salvia, which is also known as Magic Mint, Sally D and Diviners Sage.

It also notes that the herb is still legal in the state where the study took place.

The study did not address whether students used the herb or other drugs more than once in the previous year.

Previously: Bill would outlaw Salvia use; professor says ban would hurt research.

MU gets federal funding to fight meth

Methodist University will get federal funding to train others to fight crystal meth.

Congress approved $399,500 for the Fayetteville university's Methamphetamine Education Training Project. The money will be used to train students and professionals to fight the drug's production and to deal with the hazardous waste created by clandestine meth labs, according to a news release from the university.

The meth production process can create disastrous environmental effects. In addition to poisonous gas and threat of fire or explosion, a minimum of five to seven pounds of chemical waste are produced for each pound of methamphetamine manufactured, most of which is dumped near the laboratory, contaminating soil and groundwater and killing vegetation.

In 2001, the State Bureau of Investigation reported there were 34 methamphetamine labs discovered in North Carolina; in 2004, there were 322 labs discovered, according to the university.

Edwards back on campaign trail

IOWA CITY — John Edwards hits the campaign trail again today with the help of both cops and an actor.

The former North Carolina senator was forced to suspend campaigning Tuesday because of an ice storm that gripped Iowa, the site of the January 3rd caucuses. On Tuesday he made only an impromptu visit to a local restaurant, Rob Christensen reports.

But Edwards is expected to lay out some of his ideas to help communities safer this afternoon, in a teleconference with law enforcement officials this afternoon. Edwards will talk about putting morepolice to the street, ridding rural areas of methamphamines, promoting gun safety, and protecting victims of domestic violence, according to his campaign.

He has scheduled campaign appearances in Iowa City, Grinnell and Des Moines, where he is expected to be joined by actor Tim Robbins.

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