Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120

02/08/2012 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 253(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
<Bill Held Over to 2/10/12>
<Bill Held Over to 2/10/12>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 HB 253 - CATHINONE BATH SALTS                                                                              
[Contains brief  mention of  SB 140,  the Senate  companion bill,                                                               
and testimony from staff of one of its joint prime sponsors.]                                                                   
1:03:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 253.  "An Act  classifying certain  substances as                                                               
schedule  IIA   controlled  substances;  and  providing   for  an                                                               
effective date."   [Included in  members' packets was  a proposed                                                               
committee  substitute  (CS)  for  HB  253,  Version  27-LS1131\M,                                                               
Luckhaupt, 2/3/12.]                                                                                                             
1:03:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BILL  STOLTZE, Alaska State  Legislature, speaking                                                               
as  one of  HB 253's  joint prime  sponsors, mentioned  that [the                                                               
synthetic  cathinones  which  HB  253  is  proposing  to  add  to                                                               
Alaska's  list   of  schedule  IIA  controlled   substances]  are                                                               
sometimes referred to as bath  salts, relayed that there are very                                                               
severe consequences  associated with  their use  as mind-altering                                                               
substances, and indicated that there is a Senate companion bill.                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO noted  that that  Senate companion  bill is  SB 140,                                                               
sponsored [jointly by Senators Meyer, Geisel, and Olson].                                                                       
1:07:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON moved  to adopt  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB 253,  Version  27-LS1131\M,  Luckhaupt,                                                               
2/3/12, as the working document.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                
1:08:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  MARASIGAN, Staff,  Senator Kevin  Meyer, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, on behalf  of Senator Meyer, one of  the joint prime                                                               
sponsors of  SB 140,  the Senate  companion bill,  explained that                                                               
the drafter  had noticed that one  of the compounds which  HB 253                                                               
is  proposing to  add  to  the list  of  schedule IIA  controlled                                                               
substances was already  included in Alaska's list  of schedule IA                                                               
controlled substances, and so Version  M makes conforming changes                                                               
- deleting that compound from  the list of schedule IA controlled                                                               
substances  via  Section 2,  and  providing  [a more  chemically-                                                               
descriptive] reference  to that compound in  Section 1's proposed                                                               
AS  11.71.150(e)(12).    The supervisor  of  Alaska's  Scientific                                                               
Crime Detection Laboratory, she  relayed, has confirmed that it's                                                               
the  same compound  [regardless  that the  various references  to                                                               
that compound are  worded differently].  Moving  that compound as                                                               
Version M is  proposing to do makes sense given  that the list of                                                               
schedule IA controlled substances  addresses opiates, whereas the                                                               
list of  schedule IIA controlled  substances would  [with passage                                                               
of the bill] address other cathinones.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  removed his objection to  the motion to                                                               
adopt Version M as the working document.                                                                                        
CHAIR GATTO relayed that Version M was before the committee.                                                                    
1:14:32 PM                                                                                                                    
ANNE  CARPENETI,  Assistant   Attorney  General,  Legal  Services                                                               
Section, Criminal Division, Department  of Law (DOL), in response                                                               
to  questions,  concurred  that Version  M's  reference  to  that                                                               
compound  - sometimes  called methcathinone  - is  more complete,                                                               
and that  that compound is  being moved  to the list  of schedule                                                               
IIA controlled substances because  it's chemically similar to the                                                               
other cathinones being  added by the bill and  to [other schedule                                                               
IIA  controlled  substances  -   such  as]  methamphetamine;  and                                                               
explained that  in Alaska, controlled substances  are categorized                                                               
according to the  level of danger they pose or  might pose to the                                                               
public  as  determined  by  the  legislature,  with  schedule  IA                                                               
containing  what  the  legislature   considers  to  be  the  most                                                               
dangerous of  substances.  Moving the  aforementioned compound as                                                               
Version M is proposing to do  will have an impact for purposes of                                                               
sentencing,   she  surmised,   because  which   of  the   various                                                               
controlled-substance crimes  and their  penalties might  apply in                                                               
any  given case  is dependent  upon which  schedule a  particular                                                               
drug/compound   is  listed   under   [and  on   the  amount   and                                                               
behavior/activities involved].                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  surmised  that the  question  before  the                                                               
committee is  which schedule of controlled  substances should the                                                               
compounds referenced in the bill be added to.                                                                                   
1:19:22 PM                                                                                                                    
ORIN  DYM,  Forensic   Laboratory  Supervisor,  Scientific  Crime                                                               
Detection Laboratory  ("Crime Lab"), Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of Public  Safety (DPS),  in  response to  questions,                                                               
relayed that methcathinone was first  developed around 1957 as an                                                               
appetite-suppressant weight-loss  drug, but  was "pulled"  due to                                                               
its adverse  side effects; that  methcathinone can be  thought of                                                               
as   methamphetamine  because   chemically  they   are  extremely                                                               
closely-related materials that can  be easily manipulated to form                                                               
new compounds/drugs, and  they have similar effects  on a person;                                                               
and that  Version M provides  for a  very thorough list  of known                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked whether the presence  of cathinones in                                                               
someone's system can be detected via chemical testing.                                                                          
MR.  DYM  - mentioning  that  such  biological samples  are  sent                                                               
outside the  state for analysis  - said that currently  there are                                                               
protocols   for    detecting   methcathinone,    cathinone,   and                                                               
methylenedioxypyrovalerone, and  that technology,  though perhaps                                                               
a bit  behind, is advancing  in terms of  being able to  test for                                                               
the  other  compounds.    For   purposes  of  possession  crimes,                                                               
however,  the  Crime  Lab  is able  to  identify  the  substances                                                               
themselves in their bulk form.                                                                                                  
1:26:24 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY   DIAL,  Lieutenant,   Deputy  Commander,   A  Detachment,                                                               
Division of  Alaska State Troopers,  Department of  Public Safety                                                               
(DPS),  in  response  to  questions,   explained  that  when  law                                                               
enforcement  officers   suspect  that  a  person   is  under  the                                                               
influence of an intoxicating substance,  the standard protocol is                                                               
to conduct  a series of field  sobriety tests, and if  the person                                                               
fails those, and interviews with  the person indicate that he/she                                                               
is  under  the  influence  of  something,  then  law  enforcement                                                               
officers can  make an arrest  and obtain  a search warrant  for a                                                               
[biological] sample to  send off for testing.   Furthermore, some                                                               
law enforcement officers qualify as  being what he termed, "drug-                                                               
recognition  experts,"  who  could  be  brought  in,  in  certain                                                               
situations, and law enforcement officers in the Matanuska-                                                                      
Susitna  (Mat-Su)   valley,  for  example,  have   recently  been                                                               
experiencing  quite a  few incidents  involving cathinone  abuse,                                                               
and so now  have more experience in identifying  people under the                                                               
influence of  such compounds;  the effects on  a person  are like                                                               
those  of   methamphetamine  but  far  more   pronounced:    more                                                               
paranoia,  more   delusions,  more  hallucinations,   et  cetera.                                                               
However, because  it is often  the case that someone  stopped for                                                               
impaired  driving  will  be  under   the  influence  of  multiple                                                               
intoxicating  substances, law  enforcement  officers simply  look                                                               
for general signs of impairment,  rather than trying to determine                                                               
what  particular   substance  the  driver's  behavior   could  be                                                               
attributed   to.     In  conclusion,   he  predicted   that  with                                                               
cooperation  from the  Crime Lab,  law  enforcement officers  are                                                               
going  to be  able  to  address many  of  the  issues related  to                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  mentioned  that when  samples  are  sent                                                               
outside for analysis, it is simply  because doing so is much less                                                               
expensive than conducting such analyses in house.                                                                               
CHAIR GATTO posited  that the specificity of Version  M's list of                                                               
cathinones will make  it difficult for people to  subvert the law                                                               
simply  by  changing the  chemical  composition  of a  particular                                                               
1:31:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  COOPER, M.D.,  Deputy State  Epidemiologist, Section  of                                                               
Epidemiology,  Division of  Public Health,  Department of  Health                                                               
and Social  Services (DHSS), explained that  synthetic cathinones                                                               
are the active compounds found  in pre-packaged powders - usually                                                               
made overseas, and found in local  stores and over the Internet -                                                               
that  are deceptively  labeled as  bath  salts or  plant food  or                                                               
pond-water cleaner,  and, in order  to avoid  regulation, usually                                                               
state  on  the  packaging  that  the product  is  not  for  human                                                               
consumption.  One  study, he relayed, found  that intravenous use                                                               
is  the  most  common  form   of  consumption,  though  snorting,                                                               
smoking,  and rectal  administration are  pretty common  as well.                                                               
Cathinone, derived  from an  East African  shrub called  Khat, is                                                               
included   in  the   federal  list   of  schedule   I  controlled                                                               
substances,   and  is   easily  altered   to  avoid   regulation.                                                               
Cathinones  are  essentially  like  methamphetamines,  increasing                                                               
certain  neurotransmitter  levels  in   the  brain,  creating  an                                                               
adrenaline rush and  a sense of euphoria,  and increasing arousal                                                               
and  alertness;  their  effects  are very  similar  to  those  of                                                               
amphetamines,  cocaine, and  ecstasy; and  they are  often called                                                               
fake  cocaine or  legal cocaine.    However, in  addition to  the                                                               
"desired" effects, he relayed, there  is a host of unpredictable,                                                               
dangerous,   and   undesirable  effects,   including   agitation,                                                               
aggression, hallucinations,  paranoia, and  seizures.   There are                                                               
also widespread  reports across  the country  attributing violent                                                               
crimes, suicides,  homicides, and  other bizarre behavior  to the                                                               
use of cathinones.                                                                                                              
DR.  COOPER said  that according  to his  limited research,  most                                                               
experts are classifying  the abuse of "bath salts"  as being more                                                               
dangerous than  the abuse of synthetic  cannabinoids, though both                                                               
are  dangerous.   The  typical  patient  under the  influence  of                                                               
cathinone  can  be   agitated,  aggressive,  require  substantial                                                               
restraints, hallucinate, exhibit  bizarre behavior, have elevated                                                               
heart rate,  blood pressure, and  temperature, and can be  a real                                                               
danger   to    himself/herself   and   everyone    else   around.                                                               
Furthermore,  a recent  article  in a  medical journal  indicates                                                               
that another side  effect of cathinone use  is a life-threatening                                                               
skin infection  - a necrotizing  fasciitis - at  injection sites;                                                               
in  one  case,  amputation  of  the arm  and  a  mastectomy  were                                                               
required to address just such an infection.                                                                                     
1:35:45 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  COOPER  - confirming  that  chemical  testing of  biological                                                               
samples for  the presence of  cathinones is currently done  at an                                                               
outside laboratory  - indicated that although  the science behind                                                               
such  testing is  rapidly  evolving,  there are  still  a lot  of                                                               
unknowns  about it,  and,  in each  individual  case, also  about                                                               
other things  such as  which particular  compound was  taken, how                                                               
much was  taken, and  how long after  dosing might  testing still                                                               
reveal a compound's  presence.  There is no  antidote or specific                                                               
treatment for someone suffering the  effects of cathinones.  Such                                                               
a person  can be  monitored, though,  and any  observed secondary                                                               
side effects  can be treated.   Usually the effects  of cathinone                                                               
use  are short-lived  - lasting  anywhere between  four to  eight                                                               
hours  - but  there  have  also been  reports  of very  long-term                                                               
psychiatric  side   effects  occurring.    After   their  initial                                                               
development,  cathinone compounds  fell out  of favor  because of                                                               
their high  abuse and addiction potentials,  but they've recently                                                               
become  popular as  mind-altering  substances.   For example,  in                                                               
2010,  poison  control  centers received  only  about  300  calls                                                               
related to  cathinone use,  whereas in  2011, they  received over                                                               
6,000 such calls.                                                                                                               
DR. COOPER  said that as  a result of cathinones'  widespread use                                                               
and  increasing popularity,  their  addictive  potential, and  an                                                               
increase in the number of  reports of crimes related to cathinone                                                               
use, "about  over" 30  states thus  far have  enacted legislation                                                               
banning the sale and possession  of certain synthetic cathinones,                                                               
with a  couple of those  states having specifically  addressed in                                                               
their  legislation  the  issue of  potential  future  variations.                                                               
Furthermore, the  federal Drug Enforcement Agency  (DEA) has used                                                               
its authority  to temporarily [ban] certain  synthetic cathinones                                                               
while  it formulates  a long-term  policy.   Synthetic cathinones                                                               
are being used  in Alaska, he assured the  committee, adding that                                                               
the Section of Epidemiology has  published a bulletin documenting                                                               
case reports of  patients under the influence  of cathinones, and                                                               
he's heard  from his colleagues  working in Alaska's  clinics and                                                               
emergency rooms that they've also  been encountering people under                                                               
the influence  of cathinones,  and thus  far this  year, Alaska's                                                               
poison control center has received  15 calls related to cathinone                                                               
DR.  COOPER, in  conclusion,  said that  the  Division of  Public                                                               
Health  considers  the abuse  of  synthetic  cathinones to  be  a                                                               
growing  problem [because]  such products  are poorly  regulated,                                                               
are widely  available, may  contain a  variety of  chemicals, are                                                               
hard  to detect,  are  psychoactive, and,  by  all accounts,  are                                                               
gaining in popularity.                                                                                                          
1:40:02 PM                                                                                                                    
QUINLAN  STEINER,  Director,   Central  Office,  Public  Defender                                                               
Agency  (PDA),  Department   of  Administration  (DOA),  reminded                                                               
members that which schedule a  particular controlled substance is                                                               
placed under has a fairly  significant impact on the PDA [because                                                               
its  workload  is  dependent  upon   whether  a  particular  case                                                               
involves  a  felony crime  or  a  misdemeanor  crime].   If,  for                                                               
example,  a  particular   drug  is  listed  as   a  schedule  IIA                                                               
controlled  substance,  then  possessing   only  a  small  amount                                                               
[might] be a felony, whereas if  that same drug is instead listed                                                               
as a schedule  IIIA controlled substance, then  possessing only a                                                               
small  amount   [might  instead]   be  a  misdemeanor,   and  the                                                               
difference  between   a  felony  and  a   misdemeanor  is  fairly                                                               
significant in terms  of penalties for the  perpetrator and case-                                                               
processing costs.                                                                                                               
MS.  CARPENETI -  providing  just a  few  examples of  particular                                                               
behavior  that could  constitute particular  controlled-substance                                                               
crimes, [and  thereby indicating that which  crime and subsequent                                                               
penalty might  be charged and  applied in any given  case depends                                                               
upon  the type  and  amount of  drug/compound  involved, and  the                                                               
behavior/activities involved]  - relayed that  for the  crimes of                                                               
misconduct  involving  a  controlled substance,  a  first  degree                                                               
crime  is an  unclassified felony  under AS  11.71.010; a  second                                                               
degree crime  is a  class A  felony under  AS 11.71.020;  a third                                                               
degree crime  is a class B  felony under AS 11.71.030;  [a fourth                                                               
degree crime  is a class  C felony  under AS 11.71.040;]  a fifth                                                               
degree crime is  a class A misdemeanor under AS  11.71.050; and a                                                               
sixth degree crime  is a class B misdemeanor  under AS 11.71.060.                                                               
In response  to a question,  she noted that  both methamphetamine                                                               
and  cocaine  [which  have  effects   similar  to  those  of  the                                                               
cathinones listed  in HB  253] are  currently listed  as schedule                                                               
IIA controlled substances.                                                                                                      
1:44:55 PM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD  ALLEN,  Director,  Anchorage Office,  Office  of  Public                                                               
Advocacy  (OPA),  Department  of Administration  (DOA),  said  he                                                               
would  echo   Mr.  Steiner's  comments,  indicating   that  those                                                               
comments were also pertinent with  regard to the OPA.  Regardless                                                               
that everyone might agree that  cathinones should be outlawed and                                                               
shouldn't  be  available  for  legal  sale  in  stores,  as  they                                                               
currently are, the  more often that drugs/compounds  get added to                                                               
the more  dangerous controlled-substances' schedules,  the longer                                                               
the sentences become  for possession of even  just small amounts,                                                               
which in turn increases incarceration  costs.  He opined, though,                                                               
that  importing or  distributing large  quantities of  cathinones                                                               
ought to be a high-level felony crime.                                                                                          
CHAIR GATTO, after ascertaining that  no one else wished testify,                                                               
closed public testimony on HB 253.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE   HOLMES   characterized   the   bill's   proposed                                                               
placement  of the  enumerated cathinones  into  Alaska's list  of                                                               
schedule IIA  controlled substances  as appropriate  - cathinones                                                               
are dangerous drugs and should be treated that way.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG expressed appreciation for the bill.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  surmised that  there would be  more such                                                               
legislation in  the future as  manufacturers continue  to develop                                                               
new compounds.                                                                                                                  
1:51:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  moved to  report  the  proposed CS  for                                                               
HB 253, Version 27-LS1131\M, Luckhaupt,  2/3/12, out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There  being no  objection, CSHB  253(JUD) was  reported                                                               
from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 255 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 1/26/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255
HB 255 version I.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 1/26/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255
NCSL Texting Law by State.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 1/26/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255
HB255-ACS-TRC-01-20-12 (2).pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255
HB255-LAW-CRIM-01-22-12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255
HB255-DOA-OPA-1-20-12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 1/26/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255
HB 253 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 253
HB0253A.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 253
HB253-DPS-LAB-02-03-12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 253
HB253-LAW-CRIM-02-03-12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 253
HB0299A.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 299
HB299 Letter of Support.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 299
HB299 ALSC general handout(Jan2012) (2).pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 299
HB299 SPONSORS STATEMENT.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 299
HB299-LAW-CIV-02-03-12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 299
HB299-LAW-CIV-02-03-12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 299
HB 303 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 303
HB0303A.PDF HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 303
HJR 303 Hearing Request.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB303-LAW-CRIM-02-03-12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 303
Legal Memo 02.01.12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255 CS D version 2 2 12.pdf HJUD 2/8/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 255