Pubdate: Thu, 03 Mar 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: James Mayse
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Legislation Limits Sales Of Drug Ingredient

FRANKFORT -- The House of Representatives passed its version of an 
anti-methamphetamine bill Wednesday afternoon that has been championed by 
Gov. Ernie Fletcher and other members of his administration.

Although one legislator expressed reservations about the bill, he let the 
bill move forward without major changes.

The House unanimously passed Senate Bill 63, which would limit access to 
ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in tablet form. The bill restricts sales of 
tablet pseudoephedrine -- a common cold remedy that is a primary 
methamphetamine ingredient -- only to over-the-counter sales at pharmacies. 
The bill also limits the amount of tablet pseudoephedrine a person can 
purchase to 9 grams a month.

A person buying the drug from a pharmacy would have to sign a log and 
provide date of birth and other personal information. The log would be open 
for police inspection. The restrictions do not apply to pseudoephedrine in 
liquid or gel-cap form.

The bill also increases penalties for people who manufacture meth near 
children and lowers the number of meth ingredients or pieces of equipment a 
person needs to possess to be charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

The bill was approved by the Senate in mid-February. The House amended the 
bill to tack on House Bill 343, which attempts to control Internet pharmacy 
sales of drugs to state residents. House Bill 343 was supported by Attorney 
General Greg Stumbo.

Rep. Gross Lindsay, the Henderson Democrat who championed the bill in the 
House, told representatives Wednesday the bill was "extremely important to 
people in Kentucky."

"This is the meth bill you've heard so much about," Lindsay said.

The bill did draw concerns from Rep. Frank Rasche, a Paducah Democrat, who 
said restricting tablet sales of the drug to pharmacies would hurt other 
stores. Rasche had proposed two amendments to the bill, which would have 
taken the pharmacy requirement out and increased the amount of tablet 
pseudoephedrine a person could purchase in a month. But Rasche decided to 
let the bill go to a vote without his amendments.

"There are things in this bill that are anti-consumer," Rasche said. By 
restricting pseudoephedrine sales solely to pharmacies, Rasche said, the 
bill would "create a cartel" for the drug.

Requiring pharmacies to keep a log, Rasche said, would create extra labor, 
raising the cost of pseudoephedrine. Rasche said the 9 gram requirement 
would also limit families to 37 tablets a month, which might not be enough 
if several family members needed the drug simultaneously.

"I get very upset when we make laws that make law-abiding citizens 
technically lawbreakers," Rasche said. But Rasche said he would leave off 
his amendments to pass the bill.

Other House members, however, praised the bill. Rep. Jeffrey Hoover, a 
Jamestown Republican, said if methamphetamine production is not addressed 
"it will lead to the destruction of society as we know it."

Hoover said Rasche "does have legitimate concerns about this bill," but put 
them aside for now so the bill could go forward. "This may be folks, in my 
opinion, the most important bill we pass (this session) for the people of 

Rep. Robin Webb, a Grayson Democrat, said the bill is "a start," and said 
it would probably have to be amended as meth makers adapted their 
techniques. Webb also stressed that people with drug problems needed 
government assistance for treatment.

"I just hope in this dialogue the human side of addiction has not been 
lost," Webb said.

The House passed the bill 97-0. It will now go back to the Senate, where 
senators will vote on the House version.

After the House passed the bill, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, who heads the 
Governor's Office for Drug Control Policy, said he was "delighted" the bill 
was approved. Pence said he would work with the Senate for approval of the 
House's amended version.

"Until we get across the goal line, we're going to continue to work it," 
Pence said.
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