Governor promises to sign pseudoephedrine bill

By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - House Bill 512, which would make the sale of pseudoephedrine products illegal without a prescription, made its way to Senate chambers on Tuesday morning.

The vote was overwhelmingly in support of the legislation. Lawmakers say something needs to be done about the methamphetamine problem in Mississippi.

"This is having a huge effect on our population our rural population. And it's not just adults, it's children," said Commissioner on the pseudoephedrine bill in the Senate, Gray Tollison of Oxford.

But the vote didn't come without opposition. Senator Eric Powell proposed an amendment that would place a cap on the amount of money a doctor would receive as a result of consumers having to get a prescription.

"If they get sick in between their doctors visits, what are they supposed to do? So what I'm trying to do here is limit the fee that the doctor can charge to get pseudoephedrine," Sen. Powell said.

In addition, this legislation has sparked controversy with pharmaceutical companies who say Mississippi lawmakers are rushing this bill into a law. They say an electronic tracking method would be a more efficient solution that opting for prescription only to control the pseudoephedrine purchases in the state.

Senator Willie Simmons agrees. He proposed a bill that would put this measure into action, however, his proposal was shot down.

"I thought we should do a compromise and do an electronic tracking, which will allow the drug to be accessible for those individuals without having to pay for a doctor's visit," Sen. Simmons said.

Meanwhile, Governor Haley Barbour issued a statement on Tuesday in support of the bill's passage.

"I commend the Mississippi Legislature for its swift action to address the methamphetamine problem in this state," Barbour said. "I look forward to signing House Bill 512, which will make it more difficult to obtain the ingredients for this drug that tears families apart and harms many of our communities. Meth labs threaten public safety, and I don't think there is any doubt we will see a drop in the number of labs in our state."

If the Governor signs the legislation, it would go into effect July 1, 2010. Mississippi would join Oregon as the only other state to have such sales restrictions on pseudoephedrine.

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