Sometimes, the job of a Missouri senator includes discussing matters that may not exactly be hot topics back home. Take, for instance, a couple of bills making their way through the Missouri General Assembly.
House Bill 641 was recently approved by the Legislature. The measure comes on the heels of last year’s ban on synthetic marijuana, also referred to as “K2” or “spice.” Apparently, these products are usually made of herbs, diced into small pieces and sprayed with hallucinogens. House Bill 641 builds upon the original prohibition on K2 and other incense, banning future versions of these drugs.
Believe it or not, the bill also bans certain products marked as “bath salts.” There has been a recent rash of incidents of people getting high on bath salts, and some have even died from snorting, shooting up, or ingesting the product. These seemingly harmless products contain substances found in other common controlled substances known as “fake cocaine” or “complete crank.”
Unfortunately, these threats are real and if you agree the government ought to be involved in protecting people dumb enough to use them – this law will be a step forward in meeting this goal. An example brought to my attention earlier this year includes a woman who became addicted, never left her home and lost custody of her children. The costs to society are real and can be felt by all of us as taxpayers.
A different proposal, House Bill 658, proposed this year, took a different approach to policing illegal activities. It is no secret that Missouri is among the top states for methamphetamine use and arrests. Meth labs are taken down almost daily in this state. While the purpose of House Bill 658 was to crack down on meth even more, I did not see how its intent was helpful.
A lot has been done to make the purchase of some ingredients of meth much more difficult. Unfortunately, one of these “unintended consequences” is taking some cold medicines off the shelf. House Bill 658 would have required folks to get a doctor’s prescription for cold or allergy medicine. This would have been a terrible inconvenience. No one has time to take off work so they can see their doctor and get a prescription for something that is completely legal to sell over the counter. Doctors do not want the extra case load, either. However, some say the proposal was a positive step forward because it would have only limited some forms of pseudoephedrine, and not others.
I have always believed government intrusion into our lives should be limited. While the idea to make some substances illegal while opposing taking some ingredients for others off the shelves seems to be a paradox, a balance must always be found
We can crack down on illegal activities without inconveniencing regular, everyday folks. We’ll never know if common sense prevailed, since time ran out on House Bill 658 this session. However, I continue to pray that, no matter what legislation comes down the pipeline in the future, law enforcement will be given the tools they need, while our friends and neighbors will not be put out by poorly designed public policy.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Stouffer: Getting a fix on new drug threats
In his weekly report, Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, addresses legislation passed to deal with so-called "bath salts."