Pubdate: Sat, 27 May 2006
Source: Cowichan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Cowichan News Leader
Author: Edward Hill, Ladysmith Chronicle
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


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 American states restrict the sale of ephedrine-linked 
products. At least four American 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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