Pubdate: Thu, 24 Feb 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: James Mayse


Panel Votes to Limit Sale of Ingredients

FRANKFORT -- A bill that would restrict access to certain
methamphetamine ingredients and increase penalties for people who make
the drug around children passed the House judiciary committee
Wednesday. But committee members expressed reservations about parts of
the bill, and at least one member suggested the bill raises civil
liberties issues.

Senate Bill 63, which has already been approved by the full Senate,
would require that ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in tablet form, which
are common meth ingredients, be sold from behind the counter by
pharmacies. The bill would also require a person purchasing the drugs
to provide his name, address and date of birth, which would be kept in
a log by the pharmacy. The log would be open to police inspection at
any time.

The bill also stiffens penalties for people who make methamphetamine
near children, limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can
purchase to 9 grams -- about 300 tablets -- a month, and creates the
standard that a person can be charged with manufacturing
methamphetamine if he has at least two ingredients or pieces of meth
lab equipment and the "intent" to make the substance.

"We have a very serious drug problem in the state right now," said Lt.
Gov. Steve Pence, who is championing the bill along with Gov. Ernie
Fletcher. Unless the state takes action to control meth production,
Pence told the House judiciary committee "we are going to continue to
have a growing problem."

The bill also contains elements of House Bill 343, which would
regulate Internet pharmacies that sell drugs, such as meth
ingredients, to state residents. Attorney General Greg Stumbo told the
committee that drug-related crime has risen in the state by 18 percent
annually, which he attributes at least in part to methamphetamine.

Multi-ingredient tablets that also include pseudoephedrine would be
regulated under the bill, said Luke Morgan, general counsel for the
Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. Retail lobbyists have asked that
multi-ingredient tablets not be subject to the bill.

"The persons who make methamphetamine, they use multi-ingredient
(products)," Morgan said. Morgan said the bill would only affect
pseudoephedrine products in tablet form, but not liquids and gel cap
products that are commonly sold as cold remedies.

Rep. Robin Webb, a Grayson Democrat, asked whether having the log open
to police inspection was an invasion of signers' privacy. Morgan said
the log was not a private document.

"I don't think a person has an expectation of privacy (with) a log
they sign," Morgan said.

Webb also questioned the language in the bill and said the bill could
be read to pertain to more than ingredients for methamphetamine.

"People think it's limited to meth, and it's not," Webb

Rep. Darryl Owens, a Louisville Democrat, asked if a statement by an
informant, coupled with the discovery of household items that are
often used to make methamphetamine, would be enough to charge a person
with intent to make the drug.

"Intent is something we determine when we go to court," Owens said. "
. Some of the equipment is fairly innocuous. You would find it in
your home, probably."

Rep. Stan Lee, a Lexington Republican, said it would be easier to
simply outlaw the sale of tablet pseudoephedrine in the state.

"Do we ... have the authority to say, 'We do not want these tablets in
our state?' " Lee said. Lee also said groceries that do not have
pharmacies would be hurt by limiting sales just to pharmacies.

"We believe this is a sacrifice, no question," Pence said. "The
magnitude of the sacrifice is small compared to the magnitude of the

Rep. Brent Yonts, a Greenville Democrat and committee member,
expressed support for the bill.

"My county has a huge problem with meth," Yonts said. " ... There may
be some issues with this bill, but they are gnats."

The committee passed the bill unanimously. The bill next will go
before the full House. 
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