State Senate GOP proposes tougher meth laws

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Senate Republicans proposed a package of measures Tuesday to toughen laws against methamphetamine, including minimum jail terms and age limits for buying legal drugs that can be used in making the illegal drug.

"Methamphetamine is already taking a huge financial toll," Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, said in a news conference at a northeast Salem house where police recently broke up a methamphetamine lab.

Ferrioli said the drug’s consequences include increased insurance rates, property damage, burglary, assault and "heartbreak to families whose children become addicts."

One bill sponsored by GOP senators, Senate Bill 378, would require people to be at least 18 to buy medicine with pseudoephedrine in solid form – a common ingredient in over-the-counter decongestant cold remedies.

Lawmakers said the measure is intended to help curb the practice of adults sending children to multiple stores to buy medicine containing the ingredient.

Since December, sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine in solid form have been allowed only in pharmacies.

The restriction was imposed by the state Pharmacy Board at the request of Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who also is making anti-methamphetamine efforts a major priority.

Senate Republicans also proposed mandatory minimum prison sentences for making, distributing or possessing methamphetamine, Senate Bill 375, and stiffer penalties for unlawful use of certain substances used to make methamphetamine, Senate Bill 376.

Another measure, Senate Bill 379, would provide grants through the attorney general’s office to help counties pay costs of prosecuting methamphetamine-related crimes.