CHARLESTON, W.Va. — I am very pleased to provide a positive update on the legislation I discussed last week that is designed to cut down on the meth problem that is plaguing our state and communities. Senate Bill 6 has been recommended for passage by both the Senate Health and Human Resources and the Senate Judiciary Committees and is scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate body early the week of Feb. 17.
Our meth epidemic nearly doubled in 2013. Police found 533 of the illegal dope-cooking labs statewide, up from 288 the previous year.
Crystal meth addiction ruins young West Virginians and their families, fills jails with abusers and poisons motel rooms and rented apartments where the toxic narcotic is brewed. Cleaning up a tainted lab site can cost a landlord as much as $17,000. It’s obvious that while well-intentioned, West Virginia’s computer system that tracks pharmacy sales of cold remedies isn’t solving the crisis.
As long as criminal drug-makers can send associates into pharmacies to buy over-the-counter pseudoephedrine packets like Sudafed and Claritin-D, then convert the pills into this extremely addictive narcotic, this plague will continue.
The only real cure for this issue is to pass Senate Bill 6 and require prescriptions for pseudoephedrine purchases. Oregon and Mississippi, the two states that utilize this safeguard, enjoyed huge reductions in meth labs. However, pharmaceutical lobbyists argue that it would be inconvenient to force our state’s sinus sufferers to make doctor visits. This logic is debunked by the fact that most doctors who have developed a relationship with their patients will phone in these simple prescriptions without requiring a visit.
New tamper-resistant cold pills are also on the market. These products are worthless to criminals who want pills to make meth. This legislation would allow tamper-resistant brands to remain available over-the-counter. Fruth Pharmacy recently switched to these tamper-resistant pills in a fine showing of corporate responsibility that tells me and other state leaders they prefer to put the health and welfare of West Virginians above profits.
If you would like to follow the daily action of the Legislature, visit the 81st Legislature on the web athttp://www.legis.state.wv.us/.
I encourage all of you, regardless of party or affiliation, to contact me with any concerns you have regarding issues facing our district or our state. You can write to me at: Jeffrey V. Kessler, State Senate, Room 227M, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305.