Michigan House Passes Legislation to Secure Cold Medicines

LANSING, Mich. -- The state House has approved legislation aimed at reducing the number of illegal methamphetamine labs sprouting up across the state.

One bill, passed Wednesday, would require customers to show identification before buying some cold and flu medications. And the bill would bar anyone under 18 from buying those products.

The key material to make meth - ephedrine or pseudoephedrine - can be extracted from some cold and flu medications.

The House voted 104-5 to approve the bill that would ban the sale of meth-making products to minors. It now goes to the Senate.

The "no" votes in the House came from Democratic Reps. Paul Condino of Southfield, Alma Wheeler Smith of Ypsilanti and Paula Zelenko of Burton. Republican "no" votes were cast by Leon Drolet of Macomb County's Clinton Township and Tom Meyer of Bad Axe.

The House also approved a bill that would require stores to keep drugs with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine behind the counter, in a locked case or within the view of a retailer or a surveillance camera. The legislation has been opposed by retailers.

The House voted 107-2 to return that bill to the Senate for final approval. Drolet and Meyer were the "no" votes.

Law enforcement officials found six methamphetamine labs in Michigan in 1996. That number rose to 209 in 2004. Many are concentrated in southwest Michigan.

Several other states have restricted access to cold medicines, either by allowing only pharmacies to sell drugs with pseudoephedrine or making retailers lock up the products or sell them from staffed counters.

The cold medication bills are Senate Bill 189 and House Bill 4322.