Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

March 3, 2014

Rules would tighten cold meds purchase

LANSING — Lawmakers are trying to make it harder for methamphetamine makers to get the illegal drug’s ingredients from multiple purchasers of legal quantities of cold medicines.

The Senate recently passed legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, that deals with obtaining ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Those two major components of meth are also found in some cold medicines.

The legislation also would create a registry of people convicted of meth crimes and requires them to have a prescription to buy certain cold medicines. Offenders would stay on this registry for 10 years after a meth conviction.

Proos said police across the state are concerned about the cost of meth offenses, both to the families of the felons and to the communities dealing with these issues.

Meth offenses are clustered in southeast Michigan, he said.

Residents should have “safe and legal access to a safe and legal over-the-counter drug” without having to take the time to get a prescription because of a few people breaking the law, Proos said.

Michigan State Police officials support the bills, and want the cold medicines to be prescription-only for just the bad actors, said Sgt. Amy Dehner, the agency’s legislative liaison. The bills would protect residents who want to be able to buy the medicines for legitimate reasons.

The other bills deal with people who supply ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products to previously convicted meth felons.

Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, introduced similar bills.

The bills would punish people buying those substances to aggregate large amounts by making it a Class B felony conviction with a fine up to $10,000.

It already is illegal to buy large quantities of these medicines, but the bills would make it illegal for people to buy small amounts that are aggregated for meth production.

Price said the registry is an addition to the flagging system in the database that was put in place in 2011.That’s the National Precursor Log Exchange used by pharmacists in Michigan and 27 other states to check how many products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine have been purchased by the same person. If that individual has gone over the limit, which is 3.6 grams per day or a total of 9 grams over the course of 30 days, then the pharmacy will refuse the sale.

Both the House and Senate meth bills are in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

ASHLEY WEIGEL writes for Michigan State University’s Capital News Service.

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