Photo ID now required for cold medicine
Anyone buying common cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, used to make crystal methamphetamine, will have to show photo identification and sign a logbook at the store, under a new law.
The law, signed yesterday by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, takes effect Oct. 1 and conforms Hawaii's current law to federal legislation signed in March by President Bush.
"This law works," Aiona said, noting that other states have experienced dramatic drops in the number of meth lab investigations following passage of similar laws.
"It cuts the supply tremendously and is something that we sorely needed in this state," he added.
In addition to the new identification requirements, stores also will be required to keep the medication behind the counter or in locked display cases.
Individual customers would be limited to purchasing 3.6 grams, about one package, per day and no more than 9 grams, or three packages, in a one-month period. Those who need more medicine would have to get a doctor's prescription.
About 100 cold medicine tablets is enough to make 1 gram of crystal meth, or "ice," officials said.
Keith Kamita, chief of the state Narcotics Enforcement Division, said the new law, coupled with other anti-drug measures, could bring the number of meth labs in Hawaii down by 75 percent this year. So far in 2006, there has only been one documented meth lab investigated in Hawaii, compared with 17 last year, Kamita said.
"We will see a big reduction in laboratories," he said.
Critics of regulating over-the-counter drug sales say such laws do little to stop smuggling and other illegal trafficking.
Hawaii officials said the shutting down of labs is important because of the dangers associated with lab activities, such as explosions and contamination to the surrounding community.
"This will not eliminate the addiction problem of methamphetamine," Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle said. "What it will do is, it will eliminate the meth lab problem."
Because the law does not take effect until Oct. 1, pharmacies and stores have time to work on getting into full compliance.
Authorities also are working on setting up an electronic database to prevent the possibility of people going from store to store, or island to island, to buy more packages than allowed.
The logbooks that customers would be required to sign would be considered medical records and kept confidential under current privacy laws, Kamita said. Law enforcement officials would have access to the logs if illegal activity is suspected.
The proposal, House Bill 2410, Conference Draft 1, was introduced by the Lingle administration and overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature.
NEW LAWS IN BRIEF
A look at some of the bills signed into law yesterday by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, serving as acting governor:
» Senate Bill 2248, Conference Draft 1: Strengthens protections for those who donate to charitable organizations.
» SB 2273, CD 1: Adds a definition of "child or children" for eligibility under the state Employees' Retirement System and makes other technical changes.
» House Bill 2039, CD 1: Requires the Department of Health to develop procedures for emergency and long-term decontamination of illegal methamphetamine labs.
» HB 1889, CD 1: Establishes an Office of International Affairs within the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.