Legislation Expected to Decrease Meth Labs, Affect Cold Medicine Consumers
FRANKFORT, KY - Lt. Governor Steve Pence and Executive Director Teresa Barton of the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) spoke at a Bowling Green pharmacy today about Kentucky’s new law to address the methamphetamine problem and how the legislation will change the way many consumers obtain their cold and allergy medicines.
Senate Bill 63, which Governor Ernie Fletcher signed into law in March, will make it harder for criminals to obtain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient for meth production. Pseudoephedrine is also a common component of over-the-counter cold and allergy medications.
“Consumers will still be able to get the cold medications that they need, but now it will be more difficult for meth makers to buy or steal the pseudoephedrine to produce this deadly and highly addictive drug,” Lt. Governor Pence told local legislators and officials, law enforcement, the media and others at Nation’s Medicines in Bowling Green. “If we can keep meth cooks from getting enough of the pseudoephedrine, we can decrease the number of meth labs in our Commonwealth. Those labs are toxic and potentially explosive, and we must protect Kentucky families from that danger.”
The anti-meth law becomes effective June 20. As of that date, only pharmacies - including those within retail stores - will be permitted to continue distributing products containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine in tablet, caplet or powder form. Ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine can also be used to make meth.
Gel caps and liquids containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine will not be affected by the legislation.
Stores that do not contain pharmacies must have removed the affected items from their facilities by June 20.
More specific provisions of SB 63 say that:
- pharmacies will be required to store products containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine in tablet, caplet or powder form in a secure location, such as in a locked case or behind the pharmacy counter.
- shoppers will need to request the affected medications from a pharmacist, pharmacist technician or pharmacy intern, as they will be the only people allowed to distribute the products.
- consumers will be permitted to purchase up to three boxes of the affected medications per transaction and up to 9 grams in a 30-day period. Nine grams equals approximately 300 30-milligram tablets.
- customers will need to be at least 18 years old; present their photo identification, address and date of birth; and sign a log to obtain the medications.
“The drugs affected by the new law do their job when they are used appropriately, but we have to address the fact that criminals are misusing them to manufacture meth,” ODCP Executive Director Barton said. “This law is the result of the efforts of many people who are dedicated to combating the gravely serious meth problem in Kentucky, and we expect it to provide the change that it was designed to produce - fewer meth labs.”
In Warren County, where the Lieutenant Governor and ODCP Director discussed the provisions of the new meth law today, Kentucky State Police report that they have discovered 15 meth labs so far this year.
According to the National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System (NCLSS) to which law enforcement agencies can voluntarily report their meth-lab statistics, officers discovered at least 63 labs in Warren County in 2004.
Statewide, the NCLSS reports that the number of meth labs increased by at least 3,000 percent in the last seven years - from 19 labs in 1998 to 579 labs in 2004. In the past two years, there have been more than 150 children discovered in meth labs in Kentucky.
The anti-meth legislation, which the General Assembly unanimously passed, also makes it a felony to expose children to meth labs and allows law enforcement to charge individuals with manufacturing meth if they show intent to make the drug and possess two or more chemicals or items of equipment necessary for its production.
The law also enhances the fight against prescription-drug abuse in Kentucky.
It places regulations on Internet pharmacies that do business in the state, including requiring them to register with the state’s Board of Pharmacy and use a drug-tracking system commonly known as KASPER.
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