Yonts proposes 'compromise' bill to block pseudophedrine from those with meth convictions

11/22/2011 03:32 PM

FRANKFORT — A new attempt at “middle ground” has emerged for legislators hoping to tackle Kentucky’s growing methamphetamine scourge by making cold medicine with pseudoephedrine more difficult for meth makers to get.

Democratic state Rep. Brent Yonts of Greenville unveiled a bill today that would block the sale of over-the-counter drugs containing pseudoephedrine to people who have been convicted of meth-related offenses. Those with convictions would have to get a prescription to be able to buy medicine with that ingredient, such as Sudafed.

And it would create a registry for pharmacists and police to track offenders who are buying pseudoephedrine medicine, but the drug is also a main ingredient in making meth.

It would not make those medicines a prescription for those without a conviction, Yonts said.

A bill that would have make the drug a prescription garnered support in last year’s legislative session from big names on both sides of the aisle, such as Democrats Greg Stumbo, the House Speaker, and Attorney General Jack Conway and Republicans Senate President David Williams and Congressman Hal Rogers.

But it couldn’t muster enough votes to pass either chamber of the General Assembly largely because of many lawmakers’ concerns that it would restrict access to cold medicine for law abiding citizens.

Many Republican House members were present for Yonts’ announcement, including state Rep. Brent Housman of Paducah.

Housman said the bill is a compromise for those who wants to tackle the growing meth problem in the state and for citizens who don’t want to have to schedule or pay for doctor visits in order to get cold medicine.

But Housman also acknowledged that Yonts’ bill, like many bill dealing with drug problems, isn’t a cure all.

After the announcement of the bill, a law enforcement group issued a statement saying Yonts’ approach doesn’t go far enough.

Tommy Loving, executive director of the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association, said Oklahoma tried this approach two years ago but meth incidents continued to increase. They went from 743 cases in 2009 up to 910 through October of this year.

“They are having the same problem with smurfers that Kentucky is having. Meth cooks don’t purchase their own pseudo,” Loving said in a statement.

Loving said the proposal is backed by the drug makers, who have only made one concession from their position from last year. This spring, drug makers ran ads urging Kentuckians to call their lawmakers to oppose the bill making pseudoephedrine a prescription.

-Reporting and video production by Kenny Colston


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