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Forcing people to sign their names before buying some cold medicines — a requirement state lawmakers removed from Nebraska’s anti-meth legislation last year — will be enacted anyway.

A federal requirement that consumers sign logbooks when buying medications that include pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in meth, is tucked inside anti-meth legislation President Bush signed last week.

Passing a state law to combat meth production was a priority of the Legislature last year, but the package it approved did not require consumers to sign logbooks when buying products with pseudoephedrine.

Retailers strongly opposed the requirement. Some lawmakers said it would impinge on privacy.

Also, Attorney General Jon Bruning said at the time the state didn’t have the money to create a database to compile information from logbooks.

The new federal rules do not include funding for states to build databases, said Rich Chrismer, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., one of the sponsors of the federal legislation.

But without a database, it’s a “very empty threat” to meth makers, Bruning said.

An effective database must combine purchase information from convenience stores, groceries and other places where the drug is sold so officers can identify those accumulating large amounts by shopping at many locales, he said.

Such a database could cost several million dollars, Bruning said. And there probably wouldn’t be a request for state dollars because there are other drug enforcement areas that need the money more.

While the logbook requirement was removed last year, other measures remained that both and Gov. Dave Heineman say have worked since they took effect six months ago.

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The Nebraska law has taken medicine with pseudoephedrine off shelves and put them behind counters so buyers must show ID. It also limits how much medicine consumers can buy in a day and imposes stiffer penalties on meth makers.

Those provisions will not be wiped out by the federal legislation. Only pieces of state law considered weaker than the federal law must be replaced.

Besides logbooks, a cap on the amount of pseudoephedrine consumers can buy each month may be the only other federal change.

Nebraska law restricts how much can be bought each day — 1,440 milligrams. Beginning in late September, the federal law will impose a monthly limit of 9 grams, or 9,000 milligrams.

Reach Nate Jenkins at 473-7223 or njenkins@journalstar.com.

Federal meth laws

A couple pieces of a new federal anti-meth law will replace less-restrictive pieces of a state law passed last year:

* The Legislature chose not to require people to sign logbooks when buying pseudoephedrine. The federal law does, so Nebraskans will have to sign them when buying some cold and allergy medications beginning Sept. 30.

* The Legislature limited the amount of pseudoephedrine people can buy in a day; the federal law also restricts what can be bought in a month. Beginning in September, Nebraskans will be able to buy a maximum of nine grams of pseudoephedrine — equal to 300 30-milligram pills — each month.

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