7:32pm

Tue December 27, 2011
State Capitol

Lawmakers Prefile Legislation Regulating Sudafed

Although he acknowledges methamphetamine manufacturing is a "growing problem" in Scott County, one local lawmaker said he would oppose legislation some lawmakers believe will stem the tide of the homemade drug. Among the bills prefiled for the General Assembly's 2012 session, three address the sale of psuedophedrine, an active ingredient used in the production of methamphetamine, but state Sen. Damon Thayer-R. Georgetown, said he will support only one of them.

Two bills, one filed by Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, and another by Thayer's colleague in the Senate, Tom Jensen, R-London, call for pseudophedrine to be given by prescription.

Currently pseudophedrine, an ingredient in cold medicine including Sudafed, is available over the counter, but is limited to 9 grams per person per month, which is tracked by computer.

Similar legislation introduced in the 2011 session failed. Thayer opposed it then and he said he would oppose it in 2012.

"I don't support the requirement of a prescription to purchase Sudafed," he said Monday. "It punishes the innocent; the 99 percent of people who are looking for Sudafed to help them with a cold or allergy. It doesn't make sense for them to go to the doctor, increase their medical costs and clog up a doctor's office.

"It's a freedom and liberty and access to basic health care issue."

Thayer said he would instead support a bill sponsored by Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, creating a database of individuals with meth-related convictions. People on that list would be prohibited from purchasing Sudafed for at least five years.

Yonts' bill also calls for lowering the limit of pseudophedrine an individual can purchase from 9 grams to 7.5 grams.

"This time there's a good compromise bill," Thayer said. "Perhaps it will gain traction."

Rep. Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown, said he would not say whether he supported or opposed making pseudophedrine a prescription drug, but spoke favorably about Yonts' bill.

"Rep. Yonts provides a pretty reasonable approach," he said. "It would punish those who are actually breaking the law."

Quarles also talked about an omnibus drug bill that will be spearheaded by Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. He said that legislation, if passed, would address prescription pain medication abuse that has become prevalent in Kentucky and that law enforcement agencies say is the source of most theft, robbery and burglary.

"I believe that will be a primary bill this session that could potentially relate back to meth as well," he said. "There's no secret Kentucky has been one of the worst offenders of prescription drug abuse this past decade. I look forward to reviewing legislation that will help curb this."