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Oregon Grocers Association Blasts Meth Bill

WILSONVILLE, Ore. -- Oregon grocers are furious with the Meth bill passed by the state senate last Saturday, claiming that, if signed into law, it will hurt the retail industry and do little to fight the state's methamphetamine abuse problem.

"We could not support the bill in its final form because it lacked common sense and became a grandstanding stunt for politicians desperate for some good press in the middle of a budget impass," Joe Gilliam, president of the Oregon Grocers Association, told Progressive Grocer. "The legislature’s plan boiled down to a one-upmanship contest, between the governor and legislative leaders, until they made common cold medicines a prescription-only product."

Gilliam said the industry's own voluntary efforts to prevent the sale of pseudoephederine to meth manufacturers would have been effective. "After analyzing the impact of cold medicine theft, the grocery industry came forward with an agreement to move all known pseudoephederine products being used in the manufacture of meth, behind the counter and to make them available only with clerk assistance," he explained. "Our efforts would have curbed theft, but made the products still available to law-abiding customers with little or no cost increase."

Instead, the new bill, which is on its way to the governor's desk, will require a prescription for pseudoehpedrine products. Proponents of the bill say rescinding the product's over-the-counter status is the best way to get ingredient out of the hands of those who manufacture meth in illegal neighborhood labs. (PG's initial coverage of the Oregon meth bill's passage ran yesterday. See story:

Gilliam disagreed. "OTC drugs account for less than 10 percent of the meth volume," he countered. "The key ingredient that is missing in the bill is the adequate funding of prison beds for those that break the law by buying, selling, stealing and distributing for the sake of quick money, or their meth habits. The Oregon legislature once again missed the target by touting a cure for the symptom rather than the cause. In their zeal to 'be tough' they increased the cost of the product by an estimated 100 percent, made it inconvenient for the law-abiding customer, and did nothing to improve the security issue regarding theft."
-- Joseph Tarnowski
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