By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama House bill HB88 was passed out of committee Wednesday and now goes to the Senate. The bill carried by Mike Millican (R-Hamilton) would make over-the-counter drugs containing Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine to be classify as controlled substances.
This would make common hay fever and allergy medicines such as Sudafed, Dristan Cold Maximum Strength and others available only by prescription.
The bill is a result of the reported success of a similar bill pasted in Mississippi.
State authorities have said that have seen a 70 percent drop in meth labs throughout that state since enacting the prescription only law.
House Health Committee Chairman Dr. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) said after the committee passage, “The proof in the pudding that making pseudoephedrine and the precursors to manufacturing meth is the fact that the addicts have left Mississippi and are coming to Alabama to make the purchases of these ingredients.”
The facts have be born out that the western parts of Alabama have seen significant sales and crime relayed to meth-making ingredients and meth manufacturing.
Meth is a drug easily produced once the ingredients are gathered. It can be manufactured in barns, garages, back rooms of businesses, apartments, hotel and motel rooms, storage facilities, vacant buildings and even vehicles.
Many reports classify meth as an epidemic throughout America and especially in rural communities.
After reports of Mississippi’s success in crime reduction, many Alabama lawmakers looked to imitate their law.
“It is interesting that we had three separate committee members introduce identical bills that were duplicate of what Mississippi has done and done so successfully,” said McClendon.
There are those who believe that some strengthening to the existing measures to limit the sale of meth-making products.
There is a well-funded lobbying effort by the Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA) their efforts have been successful in defeating similar bills in other states This organization praised Governor Bob Riley and the Democratic leadership in the legislature before the 2010 midterms for passing an electronic sales tracking system that would track all sales of PSE. Linda Suydam, the president of CHPA said the e-tracking system “is the only solution that works across state lines.”
The bill’s sponsor, Millican, and those on the House Health Committee do not agree and believe tougher legislation is needed.
“This is an important step, look at what has happened as a result of a bill like this in Mississippi. Their crime rate and the burden on the courts has dropped by two-thirds or more,” said McClendon. “While here in Alabama we have more than half the crimes associated with the manufacturing of this horrible and most addictive drug.”
Grant Hallmark contributed to this report.