By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–On Thursday the Alabama Legislature passed House Bill 363 which will give law enforcement the tools that they need to curb the “meth,” epidemic that is rampant in the state. The bill was sponsored in the House by Representative Blaine Galither (R-Gadsden) and in the Senate by Senator Bill Holzclaw (R-Madison).
“House Bill 363 is one of the country’s toughest meth laws and will serve as a deterrent to those who seek to prey on our citizens. The Alabama District Attorneys Association would like to applaud the decisive and overwhelming action taken by our legislature to address this pervasive problem that endangers users, the environment and our children,” said Randy Hillman, Executive Director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association.
The bill limits addicts and illegal drug manufacturers access to the key chemical compounds that are required to make the powerful narcotic methamphetamine. The chemicals needed to make meth are pseudoephedrine and/or ephedrine which are found in common cold and allergy medicine such as Sudafed, Allegra D, TheraFlu, Zyrtec-D and Claritin-D.
“Another important piece to this Legislation that sometimes I think is overlooked, Is the part that expands into the drug paraphernalia aspect that law enforcement doesn’t currently have any kind of leeway into,” said Holtzclaw. “What is important to me is that expands beyond that to the law enforcement realm that says if law enforcement makes a bust and while they are there they recognize that there are Drano bottles over here, 9 volt batteries over there and ammonia over there this guy is getting ready to cook meth he is just waiting on the ingredient.” Law enforcement can make the arrest based upon this paraphernalia.”
There had been a bill before the House that would have made any medicine containing pseudoephedrine and/or ephedrine to be available by prescription only. The Galiher/Holzclaw bill did not seek to go that far.
“I wanted to give law enforcement every tool we can to help them fight the illegal use of these medicines but also allow the consumer the opportunity to purchase their sinus and cold peoducts, without seeing a doctor” said Galliher.
Galiher also stated, “This legislation is the result of extensive work between the law enforcement community, business community, consumer groups and most importantly the Alabama Drug Task Force to significantly strengthen the ability of Alabama’s law enforcement to protect our citizens from the manufacture of meth.”
The bill has had it own battles to reach the Governor’s desk but Galiher and Holzclaw remained stedfast to seeing its passage based own their commitment to putting an end to the horors caused by meth.
“It’s important that we do everything we can to stop the manufacture and distribution of crystal meth in our state. At the same time, we don’t want to burden our law abiding citizens by making this common drug difficult to obtain. This bill allows for that,” Holtzclaw said. “I’m very pleased to see the overwhelming support we’ve had for this bill.”
The passage of this bill is a testament to the bills sponsors Representative Blaine Galliher, Senator Bill Holtzclaw and a diverse group of statewide partners who came to the table with a solution designed to support law enforcement efforts to combat this drug,” said Hillman, “Although we may never eliminate all illicit drugs from our society, we stand firm in our commitment to do what it takes to protect Alabama.”
The Legislation now awaits the Governor’s signature.