Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/12/1997 01:03 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.