Jackson County has one more tool to fight methamphetamines, and this one initially won’t cost taxpayers anything.

Jackson County has one more tool to fight methamphetamines, and this one initially won’t cost taxpayers anything.

The county on Monday launched a program with an Australian company, MethShield, designed to keep people from buying large amounts of pseudoephedrine, which is used to make meth.

“It will provide real-time data to law enforcement about those who want to sell poison in our communities,” County Executive Mike Sanders said.

State law limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can buy, and that information has to be entered into a log. The problem, as county officials describe it, is that those logs up to now have been on paper, so if a person is going from pharmacy to pharmacy to skirt the limit, it’s next to impossible for pharmacies or the police to know that.

The MethShield system is Web based. The information is entered, and if the customer is over the limit for how much a person can buy, it gives the store a message, and the clerk simply declines to ring up the sale. MethShield CEO Shaun Singleton said 99 percent of customers – those who legitimately need pseudoephedrine for cold and sinus relief – get it with no problem.

The system also alerts the police. Pharmacy hopping to buy lots of pseudoephedrine is illegal, and real-time information should help police find and arrest those who try.

County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzer said one of the main benefits of the system will be in word getting around that it’s in place, which will “send a message to the criminal element that this is not a place” to make meth.

“One of the key things that you have to do in law enforcement is deterence,” Kanatzar said.

The system comes with a couple of caveats. One is that the county and local police departments have hit meth labs aggressively for many years and chased makers elsewhere. Most of the meth bought and sold in the county comes from sources such as Mexico.

The second is that large phamacy chains – reluctant to share sales information – haven’t signed up for the program. Sanders said the county won’t say who’s in and who’s out, not wanting to give meth makers too much information.

“We have significant participation. ... It’s not 100 percent,” Sanders said, adding that the county will press all sellers of pseudoephedrine to get on board.

Singleton said the system can do its job without sharing the information that pharmacies might be concerned about.

“We actually see ourselves as a clearinghouse,” he said.

He said the system has been in used in Queensland, Australia for four years and has cut the meth problem. It’s also been in use in 72 counties in Kansas – the western two-thirds of the state – for a year.

Singleton is making the system available to Jackson County free for a year, and Sanders thanked him for putting money and his own time into the effort.

“Great program,” Sanders told county legislators. “No cost to the taxpayers. Good tool for law enforcement.”