Senate approves legislation, co-sponsored by O'Mara, targeting meth makers

Thomas F. O'Mara

June 27, 2012

Albany, N.Y., June 27—The New York State Senate has approved legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats), to restrict sales of over-the-counter cold medications that are key ingredients used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

O’Mara, noting the dramatic rise in meth-related arrests and other incidents across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions over the past year, said that the legislation targets the manufacturing of the dangerous and highly addictive drug.

“We’ve seen an alarming and a troubling increase across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions over the past year in the incidents of addiction, violence and tragedy that are the by-products of rampant meth production and use," said O’Mara.  “This legislation targets meth manufacturers and it’s an important part of what must be a broader and ongoing effort to prosecute and punish meth crimes, as well as raise public awareness of the dangers.  We can’t allow our region or anywhere else in New York State to serve as a safe harbor for meth labs, meth addicts or meth pushers.”

[read more in this morning's Elmira Star-Gazette]

Earlier this year, O’Mara also introduced legislation in the Senate to significantly increase the criminal penalties for possessing, selling or manufacturing the dangerous and highly addictive drug.   According to a 2009 report from the Rand Corporation, the economic cost of meth use in the United States reached nearly $24 billion in 2005 and could go as high as $48 billion.

If enacted into law, this Senate-approved measure (S.6866) would limit the sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine to behind the counter, limit the amount of pseudoephedrine that an individual can purchase each month, and require that an individual present photo identification to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine. 

Specific provisions would:

> limit over-the-counter sales to packages containing not more than 3.6 grams of one or more methamphetamine precursor drugs, not to exceed 9 grams within a 30-day period;

> require that all packages of drugs be displayed behind a checkout counter and only be sold by a licensed pharmacist, registered pharmacy technician, or pharmacy clerk;

> require purchasers to present a valid, government-issued photo ID and sign a written logbook that will be maintained by the retailer and be open to inspection by law enforcement; and

> require retailers, before completing a sale, to electronically submit the required information to the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) administered by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI).

The NPLEx system is fully funded by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a member-based organization of manufacturers and distributors of non-prescription, over-the-counter medicine and supplements.  O’Mara noted that under the approved legislation  retailers are only required to participate as long as the system is provided free of charge.
The legislation has been introduced in the Assembly by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), who chairs the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.  It’s currently in the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee.