Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/12/1997 01:03 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SSHB 69 - ROHYPNOL AS SCHEDULE IV-A DRUG                                      
                                                                               
 The next order of business to come before the House Judiciary                 
 Standing Committee was SSHB 69, "An Act relating to designating               
 flunitrazepam as a schedule IVA controlled substance; and providing           
 for an effective date."                                                       
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, sponsor, explained that the proposed                 
 legislation would amend the state's controlled substance statutes             
 under Title 11.  He noted there was a Governor's Council on                   
 Controlled Substances; however, they had not met in 15 years when             
 the statute was enacted in its present form in 1982, and major                
 amendments in 1990.                                                           
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY advised members that during a vacation in                
 Florida he was made aware that there had been 1,800 arrests                   
 involving the illegal use of flunitrazepam.  The most common use of           
 the drug was as an intoxicant to augment the effects of alcohol,              
 heroin or cocaine.                                                            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY advised members the drug was not legal to                
 manufacture, distribute or possess in the United States under                 
 federal law, but was not illegal to possess or distribute under               
 state law.  He pointed out that the drug was a member of the family           
 of drugs known as benzodiazepines which are the antidepressant,               
 hypnotic drugs, of which all but flunitrazepam are listed in the              
 state's schedule IVA controlled substances.                                   
                                                                               
 Representative Vezey explained that possession with the intent to             
 manufacture or distribute would be a class C felony.  He noted that           
 the drug was not known to be manufactured by street chemists                  
 because it was too complicated a drug to manufacture.                         
                                                                               
 Number 1278                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE moved to adopt SSHB 69.  There being no                  
 objection, SSHB 69 was adopted.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY advised members that the drug was not                    
 detectible in a normal urinalysis, so the state of Alaska did not             
 have the capability of testing for the drug.  He advised members              
 that the manufacturer of the drug had a very aggressive program in            
 working with law enforcement agencies and if use of the drug is               
 suspected, they have a means to detect its presence.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER advised members he had attempted, for a                 
 number of years, to arrive at a structure for the state's drug laws           
 that would allow the ability to adopt, by reference, the federal              
 substance abuse prescribed list.                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained that the state of Alaska lists drugs           
 under two different schedules for two different purposes.  The                
 sponsor substitute dealt with Title 11, which was the criminal                
 code.  He noted that Title 17 addressed the medical use of                    
 controlled substances and the state had adopted the federal                   
 regulations for those types of drugs.                                         
                                                                               
 GEORGE TAFT, Director, Alaska Crime Lab, advised members he had               
 received a large packet of information on the drug from Texas and             
 most of what he had read about the drug was not good.                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked how the state would be able to                  
 prosecute under the statute if the drug is undetectable.                      
                                                                               
 EVERETT CLEARY, Chief Toxicologist, Alaska Crime Lab, advised                 
 members that currently the screens that are used to detect                    
 different categories of drugs did not react to the presence of                
 flunitrazepam, although if the drug were suspected to have been               
 used, the lab had alternate means to detect the presence of the               
 drug.                                                                         
                                                                               
 TAPE 97-16, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
                                                                               
 DON DAPCEVICH, Executive Director, Advisory Board on Alcoholism and           
 Drug Abuse, advised members they were in support of SSHB 69.  He              
 noted that the proposed legislation supported the statewide                   
 planning efforts for alcoholism and drug abuse by decreasing                  
 accessibility to drugs, and by increasing the available penalties             
 for misuse of drugs.                                                          
                                                                               
 MR. DAPCEVICH noted that flunitrazepam first came to the board's              
 attention approximately two and a half years ago where there was              
 extensive misuse of the drug in the state of Florida which had                
 spread to California some time later.  He pointed out that one of             
 the side affects of the drug was memory loss which was one of the             
 reasons it had become known as the date rape drug.  To his                    
 knowledge, the drug had not yet appeared in the state of Alaska,              
 although felt it would only be a matter of time before it did.                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if there was any action necessary from             
 the Controlled Substance Advisory Committee to make the drug                  
 illegal.                                                                      
                                                                               
 JERRY LUCKHAUPT, Attorney, Legislative Legal and Research Services,           
 Legislative Affairs Agency, advised members they would not need               
 action by that committee.  He explained that the legislature                  
 established a method for having changes in the schedules brought to           
 their attention in order that they could enact legislation that               
 would change the schedules.  Mr. Luckhaupt advised members that               
 committee had not met for at least 12 years, if it ever met.  He              
 noted that AS 11.71.120 talked about the authority of the committee           
 to recommend changes to the legislature which requires the Governor           
 to introduce legislation through the Rules committee upon their               
 recommendations to add, delete or reschedule a drug.  Mr. Luckhaupt           
 noted that a provision could be included in the proposed                      
 legislation that said notwithstanding AS 11.71.120; add a separate            
 bill section, or amend the entire thing out.                                  
                                                                               
 MR. LUCKHAUPT addressed the suggestion made by Representative                 
 Porter of adopting, by reference, the federal government's list of            
 drugs.  He stated that the problem with Alaska taking that approach           
 was a decision of the Alaska Supreme Court in a case that dealt               
 with the legislature's adoption of a plumbing or electrical code a            
 number of years ago in which the court said the state could not               
 adopt a body of regulations changed by someone else, through time,            
 and allow the changing body to govern that conduct in Alaska.                 
                                                                               
 Number 1556                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG moved that SSHB 69 move out of the                    
 committee with the attached zero fiscal notes and individual                  
 recommendations.  Representative Berkowitz objected for the purpose           
 of discussion.                                                                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ explained that his concern was with the              
 attached zero fiscal notes, which to him presumed there would never           
 be a prosecution.                                                             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN explained that through the budget process there was            
 an amount of money allocated for passed legislation.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES pointed out that many times a fiscal note                
 would not be necessary because some costs could be absorbed within            
 the existing budgets.                                                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ withdrew his objection.  There being no              
 objection, SSHB 69 was moved out of the House Judiciary Standing              
 Committee with the attached zero fiscal notes.                                

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