The sponsor of a bill aimed at fighting meth in Kentucky says his proposal will be more effective if the state increases regulations around prescription drugs.
Representative Brent Yonts has introduced a bill that requires anyone who has been convicted of a meth-related crime to have a prescription to buy cold medicines that contain the meth ingredient pseudoephedrine, or PSE.
Yonts’s bill is an alternative to proposals to make PSE prescription-only for everyone. Yonts and his supporters say that would put undue pressure on Kentuckians who just want cold medicine. Further, they argue that prescription abuse is rampant in Kentucky, and those who are intent on violating the law will obtain PSE another way.
And Yonts admits that includes some of the convicts his bill would affect.
“We do have a prescription issue, a failure, the KASPER system to deal with prescriptions and the abuse of it,” he says. “That’s a separate bill and I’m not engaged in that at this point because I’m so focused on this one, but we’re taking that issue up as well.”
The measure also addresses so-called smurfing—the practice of having several people buy the legal monthly limit of PSE, then pool it to make meth. Yonts has proposed reducing the monthly limit and increasing monitoring of purchases to ensure buyers are not convicts.
“When you go purchase these products, like 508,000 Kentuckians did last year, their names, their identifying information went into the system that’s in place right now,” he says. “What we’re doing doesn’t add any cost to that system, it’s a computer interface with driver’s licenses, the Office of Drug Control Policy and the court system.”
The Legislative Research Commission says there are 5,500 known meth offenders in Kentucky. Yonts doesn’t have numbers to show how many people who buy PSE to make meth have prior convictions, but he does have support from lobbying groups. Yonts held a conference call today with the media. He was joined by Phil Moffett of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Owensboro physician Dr. Donald Neel and Pat Davis, the wife of Congressman Geoff Davis.