Key Anti-Meth Bill Dies in Nevada Assembly

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Appeals to consider Nevada's overburdened prisons, public safety and drug treatment systems and the torment for families of methamphetamine addicts weren't enough to persuade most Assembly Republicans to vote Tuesday for a key anti-meth bill.

Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, pleaded with fellow lawmakers before the vote on AB150 to stop at nothing to put an end
to the meth crisis.

"We, as a community, must end this dread disease. We must do everything we can to take this commodity off this street. ... We are going to make a difference in our state, for our kids and their tomorrow, for the young people who are now addicted to it, who may see light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not the train coming at them to run them down," Anderson said.

AB150, which fell one vote short of a required two-thirds majority, was backed by law enforcement agencies across the state, who sought to monitor inventories of cold medicines being sold by convenience stores. The medicines contain pseudoephedrine, which gives meth its potency.

A two-thirds majority is needed for any fee increase, and the bill included a $200 fee for convenience stores to register to sell the drugs. Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, owns a convenience store and did not vote, and the other votes fell along party lines.

Assembly Minority Leader Garn Mabey, R-Las Vegas, opposed the bill's requirement for stores that sell the medicines to make quarterly inventory reports and said he did not think that requirement would work.

Assembly Democrats, knowing they faced opposition going into the vote, passionately urged lawmakers to go above and beyond federal
legislation that went into effect last fall, noting Nevada is No. 1 in the nation in several categories of meth addiction. They said the inventory reporting would give law enforcement the tools needed to fight the meth crisis.

The bill originally required a doctor's prescription for all medicines containing meth ingredients, but heavy lobbying by retailers, pharmaceutical companies and cold medicine users resulted in early amendments that watered it down. Retailers were still not satisfied, and lobbied lawmakers to oppose the reporting requirements.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)