Beshear "may need to" take a stand on pseudoephedrine issue, attorney general says

10/24/2011 07:39 AM

Proponents of a controversial bill that would require prescriptions for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine could need support from Gov. Steve Beshear in order to see it pass, said Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway.

Supporters of the proposal say it is needed to make it more difficult for methamphetamine makers to get access to that key ingredient used in cooking the destructive and addictive drug, meth.

Conway backed the proposal in last year’s General Assembly. But it split the legislature as some lawmakers feared it would add an unnecessary burden on law abiding consumers, who would have to go to the doctor to get a prescription for such cold medicine.

But so far, Beshear has avoided taking a stance, including at a debate with his opponents in this fall’s race earlier this month.

Conway said Beshear is studying the issue but could likely be asked to take a stand.

“He may need to. He may need to,” Conway said at the 5:20 mark of his interview on Pure Politics about the drug epidemic.

“We have seen an explosion of meth labs in this state. One, it’s still very easy to get a hold of pseudoephedrine. Two, you now can do it in a mobile fashion … called a shake-and-bake lab.”

Conway’s Republican opponent, Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool, disagrees with making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug. Instead, he favors a proposal pushed by drug makers to tighten the law to bar convicted drug dealers from being able to buy cold medicine with pseudoephedrine and cracking down on the amount someone can buy per month.

Conway, Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, also have proposed legislation to give law enforcement officials more tools to track the sources of illegal prescription pills, using the computer tracking system already in place, called KASPER.

“It’s an issue that has affected every family in this state. It’s affected mine,” Conway said of pill abuse (at the 45-second mark of the video.)

“We have not had a single referral from the Board of Medical Licensure since I have been attorney general,” Conway said at 2:00 of the interview. “They have the power to do it. They just haven’t been doing it.”

Conway talked about how the proposal doesn’t violate privacy issues and how the new proposal would work between 2:00 and 3:45 of the interview.

In tough economic times, law enforcement and the attorney general’s office has seen budget cuts. So the main challenge is maintaining funding for law enforcement and undercover drug bust operations, Conway said.

“You have to lobby the General Assembly but you also have to lobby Washington, D.C.,” Conway said at 4:15.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.