Pubdate: Tue, 23 May 2006
Source: Ladysmith-Chemanius Chronicle (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 BC Newspaper Group & New Media
Author: Edward Hill
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


British Columbia is falling behind in controlling the sale of legal 
drugs used to manufacture crystal meth, says Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA 
Doug Routley.

Routley, speaking in support of an NDP bill, is looking to push 
ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products, used in decongestant 
medications, behind the pharmacy counter.

"B.C. leads Canada in the manufacture of crystal meth but we have the 
least amount of regulation," Routley said. "This bill will help 
eliminate smaller meth labs in our communities. Small labs do damage 
to lives in small towns."

The Crystal Meth Prevention Act was introduced May 10 by Jagrup Brar, 
MLA for Surrey Panorama Ridge. If passed, it would put decongestants 
behind the counter, would require pharmacists to discuss the 
medication with the buyer and would restrict the amount sold at any one time.

Six provinces and 40 U.S. states restrict the sale of 
ephedrine-linked products. At least four U.S. states require 
pharmacies collect personal information on purchasers.

Routley admits the bill is unlikely to halt the wholesale manufacture 
of crystal meth. Recent media reports have indicated large meth labs 
stay under the radar by smuggling ephedrine and other crystal meth 
precursors into Canada in bulk volumes.

"It won't make a dent in the bigger market of drugs, but it is a 
small and important step to deal with the drug," he said. "It is 
symbolic and will put us in line with other jurisdictions."

Susan Ogilvie, the spokesperson for the B.C. Pharmacy Association, 
questioned need for such legislation, saying most pharmacists are 
part of the Meth Watch program, and are already vigilant about 
controlling the sale of products linked with crystal meth.

She also pointed out that the RCMP has never found a link between the 
purchase of ephedrine products from B.C. pharmacies and the 
manufacture of crystal meth.

"We doubt it will effect the distribution and manufacture of crystal 
meth, most of which is run by organized crime," Ogilvie said. "There 
is no doubt it is a vile drug, but restricting the sale of a legal 
product will not solve the problem."
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