CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill aimed at cutting down on the manufacturing of methamphetamine in West Virginia cleared its first hurdle Tuesday when the bill passed the Senate Health Committee.
The measure would require a doctor’s prescription to purchase medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in making meth and also a main ingredient in cold and sinus medicine.
The bill would allow tamper-resistant products like Nexafed to be sold behind the counter without a prescription.
Sen. Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan, said Tuesday that option makes the bill more attractive.
“I have a little more comfort knowing that people have access to this type of medicine,” the senator said.
Pharmacy chains like Fruth and Rite-Aid made moves last year in West Virginia to make regular pseudoephedrine products unavailable.
Former State Trooper and now state Board of Pharmacy employee Mike Goff told committee members products like Nexafed work for those taking it for a cold but is almost impossible to use in meth making.
“There are chemicals added to it that make the matrix hard to get just the Sudafed out for those purposes. It makes the whole process a slurry that’s hard to distinguish and separate like you would need to in a conventional manufacturing process,” Goff said.
Sen. Kirkendoll said attacking the meth-making problem while possibly hurting residents who legitimately need medicine puts lawmakers in a tough position.
“But we’ve got to do something,” Kirkendoll concluded. “We’re in a catch-22 spending millions of dollars to clean up these unsightly, unsavory (labs). Once they bust a meth lab it’s almost dangerous to be around.”
The bill next heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.