Pubdate: Sat, 15 Jan 2005
Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (TX)
Copyright: 2005 The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Author: John Davis, Avalanche-Journal
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The Lubbock Board of Health voted to draft an ordinance that would limit 
the sales of over-the-counter drugs used in methamphetamine production.

Since October, the board has discussed possible solutions to curbing the 
sales of such drugs containing ephedrine, used in common cold remedies.

At Friday's meeting, health department director Tommy Camden presented 
board members with an ordinance draft that pulled most of its ideas from 
bills in the Texas Senate and House.

"If you have been following the news media lately, you'll have seen some of 
these headlines," Camden said as he flashed methamphetamine news headlines 
on the projector screen. "Lubbock is not unique to this. It's occurring all 

The new ordinance would make it unlawful for retailers to sell more than 
three packages of ephedrine-containing drugs at a time to a customer, sell 
single packages that contain more than three grams, sell the drugs to 
people under 18, or sell a person more than nine grams over 30 days, he said.

The ordinance would require pharmacists to keep these drugs behind the 
checkout counter, inside a locked display case or within six feet of an 
unobstructed view of a clerk, he said.

"There's also a provision in this that's pretty controversial and is up for 
discussion that will prohibit sales by businesses that don't have a 
pharmacy license," he said. "That would probably take some of the products 
off the shelves of our corner stores."

The problem faced by the ordinance is that any state laws regarding the 
sales of these drugs may pre-empt the city proposal, he said.

Bonner Bennett, a local activist who is also the chairman of the Community 
Relations Task Force, presented the board with the possibility of the 
ordinance in October.

He said that though the ordinance might be pre-empted by state law and 
might upset some businesses, keeping the drugs behind lock and key or 
counters would help businesses since most of the drugs used for meth 
production are pilfered anyway.

"The more difficult you make it, the more you take it out of walking 
distance, it's still cutting down the problem," Bennett said. "My point is 
we've got to start somewhere. This is an inexpensive way of doing this.

"In the meantime, meth is causing more and more problems by wrecking lives 
and causing problems in our schools."

The possibility of putting drugs behind the counter caused some 
consternation with board member Dr. Donald R. May.

"This is a war on drugs," May said. "We're being too nice. Until we take on 
these drug dealers and take drug labs and get them off the streets, we're 
not going to do anything."

Drug dealers could either buy from Mexico or Canada off the Internet, he 
said. The problem may best be solved by getting tougher on crime and 
offering harsher punishments to drug offenders.

Also, he feared the ordinance would add an increase to the price of the 
product, he said.

In other news, four more syphilis cases cropped up in Lubbock during 
December, according to Tigi Ward, public health coordinator-surveillance.

The cases, two males, a female and a baby, were unrelated. One of the male 
cases was related to the two cases found in October, she said. The baby's 
case was congenital, passed down from the one female case, she said.

Also, the board elected to ask the City Council to increase its size from 
seven to nine members.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jackl