- Bill would enforce retailer compliance with the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act -
Mar 05 2009
Washington, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that would require retailers of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine products to verify that they have trained their staff in the requirements of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act that went into effect in 2006.
Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, found in cold medicines, are ingredients commonly used to make methamphetamine.
“There is strong evidence that the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, which passed in 2006, has had a major impact on methamphetamine production and distribution,” Senator Feinstein said. “According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, there has been a 41 percent drop in known methamphetamine labs – from 12,000 in 2006 to 7,300 in 2007.
“Iowa has been hit extraordinarily hard by the scourge of meth abuse. Passage of the Combat Meth Act in 2006 provided us with a good deal of success in reducing the domestic meth supply. But, we’re looking to do more to get this dangerous drug out of the hands of people across the country,” said Senator Grassley. “Our bill will take tougher action to ensure all stores that sell meth precursor chemicals are in full compliance with the law.”
Prior to passage of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, it was common practice for methamphetamine dealers to go into stores, load up shopping carts with cold medicines, break open the blister packs, and use the pseudoephedrine and ephedrine to make methamphetamine.
The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act stopped this practice, by requiring that cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine be placed behind a pharmacy counter, requiring signature and proof of identification before purchase and limiting how much of these medicines a person can buy in a day or month.
But the law had a loophole, which allowed retailers to continue to sell products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine without showing that their employees were complying with the law’s requirement.
“The Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act of 2009 will close that loophole and require all retailers to certify that they are in compliance with the law,” Senator Feinstein said. “If they aren’t, they simply won’t be able to purchase pseudoephedrine products from distributors.”
The next step in the fight against methamphetamine is to pass the Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act – a bill also pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Methamphetamine and other illegal drugs are being colored, packaged and flavored in ways designed to attract children and minors – some even have child-friendly names like Strawberry Quick. Senator Feinstein’s legislation would enhance federal penalties to anyone who “manufactures, creates, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute a controlled substance that is flavored, colored, packaged or otherwise altered in a way that is designed to make it more appealing to a person under 21 years of age, or who attempts or conspires to do so.”
“We must send a strong and clear message to drug dealers – that if you target our children by peddling candy-flavored drugs, there will be a heavy price to pay,” Senator Feinstein said.
The Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act of 2009 is co-sponsored by Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Richard Durbin (D-Ill.); Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.); Evan Bayh (D-Ind.); Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.); Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.); John Ensign (R-Nev.) Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.); Tim Johnson (D-S.D.); John Kerry (D-Mass.); Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Patty Murray (D-Wash.); Ben Nelson (D-Neb.); and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).
The bill also is supported by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, The Health Care Distribution Management Association, the National Narcotics Officers’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.
The Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act would require all retailers selling ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products to self-certify that they have trained their personnel in the law (currently, mail-order retailers of these drugs are exempted from the self-certification requirement). The bill also would:
- Require distributors of these products to sell only to retailers who are registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to sell controlled substances;
- Require the DEA to provide a downloadable database of all retailers who have filed self-certifications on its website so that distributors can check their customers against this database to ensure compliance; and
- Clarify that a retailer who negligently fails to file self-certifications as required can face civil fines.