Key Nevada anti-meth bill watered down | NevadaAppeal.com

Key Nevada anti-meth bill watered down

AMANDA FEHD
Associated Press Writer

Nevada legislators have gutted what would have been the strongest measure this session targeting methamphetamine, a proposal to require a doctor’s prescription for all drugs containing meth ingredients.

The prescription provision of AB150 was dropped in the face of opposition from consumers who use cold and allergy medications, retailers and the drug industry.

During hearings on the bill, lobbyists from the Retail Association of Nevada, National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a group of manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter drugs, argued it would create unacceptable barriers for regular customers with a headache, fever or a runny nose.

Rob Bovett, attorney for the Oregon Narcotics Enforcement Agency, told lawmakers in February they should restrict access to the key ingredient in meth or face a resurgence of homegrown labs manufacturing the drug because overseas supplies are shrinking.

Bovett said then that Oregon’s small labs have disappeared since his state passed a prescription-only law covering cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine or other substances that can be used to make meth.

An ingredient in many cold medicines, pseudoephedrine gives meth its potency. A new federal law stopped over-the-counter pharmacy sales of cold medicines with the chemical, but most are still available at convenience stores. Addicts “smurf” several stores at once to buy enough to make their own meth.

The amended AB150 now requires convenience stores that sell pseudoephedrine-containing medicine to register with the state and provide inventory information on those drugs.

Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, said Monday the bill was changed because of complaints from those who do not have insurance and who “rely on over-the-counter medications to take care of their problems.”

Almost every member of the Legislature had signed on to the bill when it contained the prescription language. Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who also is a prime sponsor and worked on the amendments, said many who had signed on did not realize its implications.

Leslie said she would have voted for the prescription-only language, but didn’t think she could have gathered enough support from other lawmakers.

“I see the damage that meth causes every day in my job and the amount of money that we are spending on meth-related aspects of the criminal justice system and child protective services. In my mind, that more than outweighs the costs of having to get a prescription. But I don’t think I would have been successful in persuading my colleagues,” Leslie said.