The Arizona Legislature is facing a responsibility and a duty to soon take action to stop methamphetamine abuse in the state.
The lawmakers can do so by passing HB 2815 which would help shut down meth labs in the state by separating meth producers from their main ingredient -- pseudoephedrine.
Last year, the Legislature had an opportunity to pass a similar bill but ultimately passed a watered-down version of the original.
The law didn't go far enough in helping law enforcement take proper measures to limit meth producers' access to pseudoephedrine.
HB 2815, sponsored by District 1 Representative Tom O'Halleran (R-Sedona), is modeled after some of the toughest anti-meth laws in the nation, including those that have proven highly effective in Oklahoma and Oregon.
The 700 participants attending the "A Call to Action" statewide meth conference Feb. 13 and 14 were told products containing pseudoephedrine may be purchased in Oregon only with a prescription and in Oklahoma sold only by a pharmacist. Also in Oklahoma, a signed log is kept for each pseudoephedrine product sold.
The key components of HB 1815 are:
- Products containing pseudoephedrine may be sold only by licensed pharmacy staff, and customers will show government-issued photo identification and sign a written or electronic log maintained by the pharmacy.
- A customer may purchase up to nine grams of pseudoephedrine in 30 days, which equals 367 30-mg tablets. That is more than enough to allow adults and parents to treat cold, flu and allergy symptoms.
- Pseudoephedrine buyers must be at least 18 years of age.
- A person who uses fake identification to buy pseudoephedrine is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
Experts in the field of law enforcement, the treatment of meth addiction and environmental hazards of drug labs told attendees of the "A Call to Action" meth conference that HB 2815 would give prosecutors across the state the tools to track down meth producers, fine unscrupulous vendors, protect first responders from drug hazards and close down clandestine labs.
If lawmakers have the foresight to pass HB 2815, it will represent a huge step in building safer communities.