We are in the final two weeks of the 2014 Legislative Session and next Wednesday marks “Crossover Day” here at the Capitol. Crossover Day signifies the last day to pass bills out of their originating chamber. We will surely see a lot of legislation passing through both chambers during the final two weeks of business here in Charleston.

As some of you may know, the Senate passed out Senate Bill 6 last week which creates a prescription requirement for pseudoephedrine, a drug that can be used to make methamphetamine. The meth-lab problem in our state is at an all-time high and we are spending thousands each year cleaning up meth-labs in the state and it is time to put a stop to it. I am relieved to see this bill pass because it is one step in the right direction to keeping our neighborhoods safer. We are keeping a very dangerous ingredient off the streets but still making it available to those who need it with a written prescription.

I will admit that I was reluctant to support this bill initially; however, after a four-hour committee meeting where we heard expert testimony from the medical and pharmacy community along with law enforcement officials, I found myself overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. Medical experts explained to some of my fellow senators and me that medicines containing pseudoephedrine can be dangerous for the elderly and young to take without supervision. The danger of the ingredient alone, along with the fact that meth labs are growing at an alarming rate across the state creating an extreme hazard for our children, neighborhoods, and first responders made it clear to me that the right thing to do was to support this legislation.

While obtaining certain cold medicines could be less convenient, the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy has identified Zephrex-D and Nexafed as “tamper-resistant”-pseudoephedrine, meaning it is very difficult to derive meth from these medications. If Senate Bill 6 passes, you will still be able to buy tamper-resistant medications such as these, over-the-counter. Additionally, it was stated by medical professionals that there are better and safer cold medicines “on the shelf” at a cheaper price than the pseudoephedrine products. Further, for those that need and want these products for health reasons, they will simply need a prescription from their doctor to get the product at costs similar to what they pay for them today.

Meth-lab busts in the state nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013. We must take extreme measures to ensure the safety of West Virginians along with making the most sensible economic decisions when it comes to combating the meth problem.

As always, I am proud to serve the great people of the 12th district and work hard to ensure a bright future for the Mountain State.

To write me, my address is Senator Sam Cann, State Capitol, Building 1, Room 218-W, Charleston, WV 25305. You can also call me at 304-357-7904. I encourage all of my constituents to contact me with any questions or concerns.

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