Indiana lawmakers advance tighter cold meds limits

Bill goes back to Senate for amendment approval

INDIANAPOLIS - Consumers would face tighter limits on the quantities they could buy of cold and allergy pills often used to make methamphetamine under a proposal approved by Indiana lawmakers.

The House voted 91-1 Monday in favor of the bill that would limit the annual purchase of pseudoephedrine-based products to about 61 grams a person. That's about an eight-month supply of the current law's monthly limit.

Supporters say the new limits will make it more difficult for meth makers to obtain the medications without penalizing people who need them for legitimate health reasons.

"The main ingredient for (meth) is a very legitimate substance that is purchased by people all the time to use for very good purposes," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville. "And while we're trying to make sure that we don't let this thing get out of control, we don't want to put penalties on people who need this on a regular basis."

Some opponents have criticized the bill as a needless intrusion, especially since children who don't have driver's licenses will have their purchases tracked on their parents' driver's licenses, cutting mom and dad down below the eight-month level.  

The medical profession has endorsed the bill, largely because it doesn't make the drugs prescription only.

Several mayors and police groups have pushed for state law to require a doctor's prescription to buy the medicines.

Some opponents of the bill question whether it'll really fulfill its intended purpose.

"We've got to start thinking instead of a state, we've got to start thinking regionally," said Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes. "I live in Vincennes, Ind., and my garage, it's less than a five-minute drive to the nearest pharmacy in Illinois. It has a completely different structure than we have. It has a completely different tracking system than we have."

The state Senate previously approved a similar version of the proposal. The bill now goes back to the Senate, which must decide whether to approve amendments made in the House.

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