A new state law designed to curb one of the fastest growing crimes in North Carolina, the production of methamphetamine, went into effect on January 15, and has already had great success in Oklahoma, resulting in more than an 80 percent drop in meth labs in that state. Dr. Bruce Gay, associate professor and director of the Criminal Justice program at Campbell University praised House Bill 248, not only for its potential to curb the spread of a dangerous drug but for its potential to protect law abiding citizens. "Methamphetamine and meth labs are a huge drug problem in North Carolina, as well as other states," said Gay. "It's taken the place of crack cocaine for many reasons. Methamphetamine is easier to obtain and make and most of the ingredients can be purchased over the counter." Methamphetamine can be made from ingredients found in common drugs like Nyquil, Coricidin and other cough, cold and flu medicines. North Carolina's new law will require that all single and multi-source tablets, caplets or pills containing pseudoephedrine (a decongestant) will be sold behind a pharmacy counter. Purchasers must be at least 18 years old and have a photo ID and sign a log to buy these products. The law also limits purchases of these products to no more than two packages at once and no more than three packages within 30 days without a prescription. Some national retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart have already moved pseudoephedrine products behind pharmacy counters both in North Carolina and across the country. According to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the law allows most liquid and gel cap forms of cold remedies to remain available for sale on store shelves because there have been no meth labs reported in North Carolina where gels and liquids were used. But in North Carolina the Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services reserves the right to place restrictions on all liquids and gels if necessary. Cooper also reports that the number of meth labs has skyrocketed since they were first discovered in the state in 1999. There were nine labs discovered that year, compared to 328 labs in 2005 With several arrests related to the production of methamphetamine in labs found in and around the Harnett County area alone over the past few months, one in which six children were taken into custody by the Department of Social Services, this new legislation is especially timely, Gay said. "These meth labs are very dangerous. Not only to the people addicted to the drug, which bonds with a person's body chemistry and is therefore more addictive than, for example, cigarette smoking, which primarily affects the lungs, but it gets into the atmosphere so that others living in the house are involuntarily forced to breathe the fumes. Meth labs are also a threat to the whole community in that they are very volatile, Gay added. "They're like bomb factories that can explode at any minute. A law enforcement officer was killed by just turning on a light in a meth lab during an investigation. "Putting drugs behind the counter may be an inconvenience for the consumer, but if our citizens are willing to put up with it, we can help put an end to meth labs and other related issues," Gay said. Dr. Bruce Gay's background includes a decade of law enforcement experience working with the Dallas Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, among other agencies. He received a Bachelor of Arts in theology from Tennessee Temple University and a Th.G. in apologetics from Temple Baptist Theological Seminary. Gay also received a Master of Arts in philosophy from the University of Texas and a Ph.D. in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University. In addition to his duties as associate professor and director of the Criminal Justice program at Campbell, Gay has maintained an active training and consulting schedule for police departments, police academies, several federal law enforcement agencies, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He has authored several journal articles relating to law enforcement, including an article dealing with the effectiveness of the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. Prior to going into law enforcement, Gay was a Baptist pastor.