Categories
Frankfort Local News

PSE, Prescription Drug Bills Head to Original Chambers for Final Passage

State lawmakers have approved two major pieces of legislation dealing with drug abuse in Kentucky.

House Bill 4 tightens regulations on prescription pills. It passed the full Senate Wednesday afternoon. Around the same time, the House passed Senate Bill 3, which caps the amount of pseudoephedrine Kentuckians can buy every month without a prescription. Since both bills were amended, they will now return to their original chambers, where lawmakers must decide whether to agree with the changes or send them to conference committees for compromises.

The bills address growing problems that stem from the misuse of legal drugs.

HB4 is aimed largely at so-called pill mills—pain clinics that illegally deal prescriptions to Kentuckians and out-of-state visitors.

SB3 fights meth by regulating its main ingredient—pseudoephedrine, or PSE. PSE is a common ingredient in cold medicine, and lawmakers have long fought over how tightly legal decongestants must be controlled in order to stop meth production.

“Let’s quit arguing this,” said Representative Danny Ford in the House . “We shouldn’t be all session in getting this out. This should be a no-brainer, we need to get this done.”

But others argued the bill was unfair to law-abiding citizens.

“And at some point we’re going to make it a prescription medication again and that’s the concern,” said Representative Stan Lee. “Once you start giving up a little bit of your freedom it’s a hard thing to stop.”

A bill dealing with synthetic drugs passed the Senate earlier this week.

Categories
Frankfort Local News

Stumbo says Senate PSE Bill Will Likely Remain Intact If It Passes

A proposal that limits the amount of pseudoephedrine consumers can buy in a month could make it out the state House of Representatives intact.

The Senate passed a bill last week that would limit consumers to seven point two grams of pseudoephedrine every month, or roughly two boxes of cold medicine.

Now, the bill has arrived in the House. House Speaker Greg Stumbo supports stricter legislation that would make PSE available by prescription only to crack down on meth abuse. But that proposal doesn’t have any hope of passing the Senate, so Stumbo says he hopes his chamber will pass the Senate’s bill.

“I hope so. I mean I prefer a stronger version, but it’s obvious the Senate had problems with it. I expect that we’ll run into some difficulties over here, but we’ll give it our best shot,” he says.

Categories
Frankfort Local News Politics

PSE Bill Narrowly Clears Committee

A bill that would make pseudoephedrine available only by prescription in Kentucky has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

PSE is commonly found in cold medicines and is also used to make meth. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard another hour of testimony on the issue from law enforcement officers and former meth addicts today before passing the bill out of committee.

Before the vote, sponsor Robert Stivers promised to continue pushing the measure regardless of it’s eventual fate.

“I don’t know if we have the votes in the chamber or on this committee to pass it. If we do I’ll be grateful, if we don’t I will still be a person who will continue to bring the issue to the attention of the public and someday maybe it will change,” he said.

Opponents of the measure say it unfairly limits law abiding citizens’ access to a legal drug. But supporters say meth use is out of control in Kentucky and must be curtailed. 

Categories
Frankfort Local News

House and Senate Committees Will Discuss Pseudoephedrine Control

In a rare joint meeting, the judiciary committees of both Kentucky General Assembly chambers will hear testimony on pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is the key ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medicines and is essential to meth production. Tomorrow, the House and Senate Judiciary committees will hear testimony on how to control PSE.

Oklahoma does not require a prescription for PSE unless the buyer has been convicted of a meth-related crime. That’s the approach the health care industry supports. Mississippi requires anyone buying PSE to have a prescription. That’s an approach the Kentucky State Police and Senate leadership prefer.

Officials from both Oklahom and Mississippi will testify tomorrow.

“I wanted to say I’m probably not going to ask for a vote tomorrow on the legislation,” says Senator Tom Jensen. “We’re gonna hear testimony and we may even have to extend it to another meeting with so many people that want to speak. But I think it will be very informative for those who really want to get knowledgeable about this issue.”

Both approaches, prescription and conviction, have been proposed this session. 

Categories
Frankfort

Republican Senator Calls Out Peers Over Pseudoephedrine Bill

A push to crack down on drug abuse in Kentucky’ has re-opened old disputes in the state Senate.

Governor Steve Beshear has promised to propose comprehensive anti-drug legislation this session. One Republican senator, Robert Stivers of Manchester, says he agrees with the governor’s plan, but wants to add one provision. Stivers wants a bill that would make pseudoephedrine—a key part of over-the-counter cold medicines and meth production—available by prescription-only to pass the General Assembly as well.

A similar measure died in the Senate last year and Stivers took his peers to task today to try to prevent the same from happening this session.

“It may inconvenience some people. It may be a little more expensive on some people,” Stivers said. “But when you get a text twice in a week that friends and family members are going into rehab,young people that you know, you can stick your head in the sand and ignore it or you can do something about it.”

Citizens flooded legislators’ phone lines last session to complain about making cold medicine like Sudafed available only by prescription. They said it would make the drugs too expensive and inconvenient to obtain.

Within an hour of Stivers’s floor speech, an advocacy group called Stop Meth, Not Meds, was once again telling citizens to call lawmakers. That group prefers what they call a compromise bill by state Rep. Brent Yonts, a Democrat. Yonts’s bill would only require prescriptions for those with previous meth convictions.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to take up the measure next week.