Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/20/2017 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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         SB  20-LIST U-47700 AS A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE                                                                      
1:36:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of SB 20. [This is the                                                                
first hearing and CSSB 20(HSS) is before the committee.]                                                                        
1:37:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KEVIN MEYER, sponsor of SB 20, introduced the bill                                                                      
speaking to the following sponsor statement:                                                                                    
     SB  20  would update  the  State  of Alaska  controlled                                                                    
     substance list by adding two  drugs. First, SB 20 would                                                                    
     classify U-47700, a synthetic  opioid commonly known as                                                                    
     pink  or U4,  as  a schedule  IA controlled  substance.                                                                    
     Secondly,  SB 20  would add  Tramadol,  an opioid  pain                                                                    
     medication   available   through  prescription   as   a                                                                    
     schedule IVA controlled substance.                                                                                         
     U-47700 was  a research  chemical created  and patented                                                                    
     in the United States in  the 1970s. It was never tested                                                                    
     on  humans   and  was   not  manufactured   for  public                                                                    
     consumption. Drug  labs in China now  produce this drug                                                                    
     and  sell it  online to  people who  purchase it  as an                                                                    
     inexpensive alternative to  other drugs. This synthetic                                                                    
     opioid  is eight  times more  potent than  morphine and                                                                    
     according to the  Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)                                                                    
     it  is the  cause of  46 overdose  deaths from  2015 to                                                                    
     2016.  The State  of Alaska  Epidemiology Bulletin  has                                                                    
     attributed  U-47700 to  three drug  overdose deaths  in                                                                    
     Tramadol was created by a  German drug company in 1962.                                                                    
     Tested  for over  15  years, it  was  approved for  the                                                                    
     foreign market  in 1977. Tramadol is  widely prescribed                                                                    
     for  pain relief  and became  available  in the  United                                                                    
     States   in   1995.   Because  of   its   low   dosage-                                                                    
     approximately  one  tenth  the  strength  of  morphine-                                                                    
     Tramadol  was thought  to be  a  benign pain  reliever.                                                                    
     However,  as prescriptions  have  risen  in the  United                                                                    
     States  there are  more and  more  reports of  Tramadol                                                                    
     dependency,  abuse, withdrawal,  and  stealing of  this                                                                    
     prescription medication.                                                                                                   
     The   DEA   [Drug   Enforcement   Agency]   temporarily                                                                    
     scheduled U-47700 as a  schedule I controlled substance                                                                    
     in  2016.  Tramadol was  classified  as  a schedule  IV                                                                    
     controlled substance  in August  of 2014. Should  SB 20                                                                    
     pass,  Alaska State  Statutes will  be up-to-date  with                                                                    
     the federal  scheduling of  these two  substances. This                                                                    
     bill will allow drug  enforcement agencies to limit the                                                                    
     unlawful sale, use,  purchase, possession, manufacture,                                                                    
     transport  or  delivery either  drug  in  the State  of                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER  related that Senator  Giessel amended the  bill in                                                               
the Senate Health and Social  Services Committee, adding Tramadol                                                               
to the  controlled substance list.  He highlighted that  the bill                                                               
is in keeping with the  Governor's recent disaster declaration on                                                               
the opioid epidemic in Alaska.                                                                                                  
CHAIR  COGHILL   listed  the  individuals  available   to  answer                                                               
questions and then recognized Ms. Marasigan.                                                                                    
1:43:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  MARASIGAN,  Staff,  Senator   Kevin  Meyer,  said  the                                                               
Senator outlined that  SB 20 adds the opioid  U-47700, also known                                                               
as  pink, and  Tramadol to  the controlled  substances list.  She                                                               
noted additional people available to answer questions.                                                                          
1:38:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KELLY joined the committee.                                                                                             
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if Tramadol would  still be available                                                               
by prescription if the bill were to pass.                                                                                       
MS. MARISIGAN answered yes.                                                                                                     
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if it  would be  a class C  felony to                                                               
unlawfully possess Tramadol, if the bill were to pass.                                                                          
MS. MARISIGAN answered yes.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  how that  compares to  other opioids                                                               
the legislature acted on in Senate Bill 91.                                                                                     
MS.  MARISIGAN replied  the classification  for U-47700  would be                                                               
like  other   opioids,  whereas  Tramadol  would   have  a  lower                                                               
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI   expressed  interest  in   receiving  more                                                               
specific information on how these  drugs would be ranked compared                                                               
to those addressed in Senate Bill 91.                                                                                           
CHAIR COGHILL  asked if  the penalty  for unlawful  possession of                                                               
controlled substances  listed in  AS 11.71.140(c) would  be based                                                               
on dosage.                                                                                                                      
MS. MARISIGAN said  that's her understanding but  she would defer                                                               
to Kaci Schroder from the Department of Law.                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL asked  if other states have added  both U-47700 and                                                               
Tramadol to their controlled substance lists.                                                                                   
MS. MARISIGAN  explained that, because  it is so  lethal, several                                                               
states  placed  U-47700 on  emergency  schedule  before the  Drug                                                               
Enforcement  Agency placed  it  on a  temporary  schedule for  18                                                               
months. Once  that time  is up,  the DEA will  need to  decide to                                                               
either extend the  temporary schedule or pass the law  to make it                                                               
a  controlled  substance.  The  Drug  Enforcement  Agency  listed                                                               
Tramadol in 2014 on the  recommendation of the Opioid Task Force.                                                               
When Tramadol was  first introduced in the U.S.  it didn't appear                                                               
to  present a  problem because  the opioid  dosage was  so small.                                                               
However, as recently as 2010  some pharmacy reports indicate that                                                               
up  to 16,000  people are  adversely affected  by this  drug, and                                                               
other experts have said that the drug is being diverted.                                                                        
CHAIR COGHILL  asked to  hear from the  Alaska State  Troopers on                                                               
that point.                                                                                                                     
1:48:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN   MICHAEL  DUXBURY,   Support   Services,  Alaska   State                                                               
Troopers, Department  of Public Safety (DPS),  Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
stated that  he is the  supervisor for the Alaska  Statewide Drug                                                               
Enforcement  Agency. He  reported  that a  significant amount  of                                                               
Tramadol and  other drugs  are being sent  to Western  Alaska for                                                               
illegal  use. A  significant concern  is that  while the  DEA has                                                               
scheduled the drug, it is at  a dosage that makes it difficult to                                                               
impossible for  local law enforcement  to a federal  case. Adding                                                               
the drug  to the state  schedule will  give some ability  to stem                                                               
the  tide of  abuse and  diversion  to Western  Alaska and  other                                                               
locations throughout the state.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  what  the current  penalty  is  for                                                               
illegally possessing  Tramadol and if  it would become a  class A                                                               
misdemeanor if SB 20 were to pass.                                                                                              
CAPTAIN DUXBURY said  he believes that is  correct. Under current                                                               
law,  possession without  a prescription  falls  into a  diverted                                                               
situation  and there  is little  enforcement. Placing  it on  the                                                               
schedule will provide opportunity for some enforcement.                                                                         
CHAIR COGHILL asked  what the usual dose is  for prescription use                                                               
as opposed to the dose for diversionary use.                                                                                    
CAPTAIN  DUXBURY  explained  that  when  the  drug  is  used  for                                                               
diversionary  purposes it  is  sold  in bulk,  not  in a  labeled                                                               
prescription bottle. He  deferred the question about  the dose of                                                               
an individual prescription to a medical professional.                                                                           
CHAIR COGHILL asked Captain Lowden if he could answer.                                                                          
1:52:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN DAN LOWDEN, Deputy  Commander, Central Office, Department                                                               
of Public  Safety (DPS), Anchorage, Alaska,  said Captain Duxbury                                                               
is the expert and he has been deferring to him.                                                                                 
CHAIR COGHILL  asked if increasing  the penalty for  illegal sale                                                               
of these two  drugs based on volume would make  it easier for law                                                               
CAPTAIN DUXBURY confirmed it would be easier.                                                                                   
CHAIR COGHILL  said he'd ask  the Department  of Law to  opine on                                                               
that,  and noted  that his  staff had  directed attention  to the                                                               
appropriate statute.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI questioned  why the  fiscal notes  from the                                                               
Department  of   Public  Safety  (DPS)  and   the  Department  of                                                               
Corrections  (DOC) were  zero instead  of indeterminate.  "Is the                                                               
assumption that we will not arrest anyone because of this?"                                                                     
MS. MARASIGAN  said the individual departments  could address the                                                               
fiscal notes.  Addressing the question  about penalties  based on                                                               
volume or quantity, she explained  that distribution of more than                                                               
a gram or more  than 25 tablets of a schedule IA  drug is a class                                                               
C felony.  Possession of any  amount of a schedule  IA controlled                                                               
substance is a class A misdemeanor.                                                                                             
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if it was her  understanding that the                                                               
federal  government  would  pick  up the  cost  if  somebody  was                                                               
imprisoned under federal law.                                                                                                   
MS. MARASIGAN deferred the question to the Department of Law.                                                                   
CHAIR  COGHILL suggested  the Department  of Law  respond to  the                                                               
last two questions.                                                                                                             
1:55:15 PM                                                                                                                    
KACI  SCHROEDER, Assistant  Attorney General,  Criminal Division,                                                               
Department of Law, introduced herself.                                                                                          
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked why the  fiscal notes from DPS and DOC                                                               
are  zero   rather  than  indeterminate;   and  if   the  federal                                                               
government would pay the costs  of imprisonment if this were left                                                               
as a federal violation.                                                                                                         
MS. SCHROEDER  confirmed that if  the federal government  were to                                                               
decide to  prosecute either substance, they  would be responsible                                                               
for  the costs  of the  prosecution and  imprisonment. The  issue                                                               
with putting these drugs on an  Alaska schedule is that the state                                                               
must dedicate resources to control  the substances. The advantage                                                               
is that the state would have control over enforcement.                                                                          
CHAIR COGHILL asked  if the state penalty is  commensurate to the                                                               
federal penalty.                                                                                                                
MS. SCHROEDER  offered her  understanding that  federal penalties                                                               
have a broader  range and are harsher than  state penalties. "But                                                               
the state is  closer to the ground and it  has better enforcement                                                               
CHAIR COGHILL asked what insight she has about the fiscal note.                                                                 
MS. SCHROEDER said the Department  of Law submitted a zero fiscal                                                               
note  because it  doesn't anticipate  asking  for any  additional                                                               
positions to prosecute these offenses.                                                                                          
CHAIR  COGHILL  asked  Senator Wielechowski  if  he  wanted  more                                                               
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  for  someone to  explain what  would                                                               
happen under  existing law if  someone was caught  with Tramadol.                                                               
He assumed  that the local police  or a Trooper could  arrest the                                                               
person and it would be up  to the federal government to prosecute                                                               
using   federal  judicial   resources   and  federal   correction                                                               
MS. SCHROEDER deferred  to DPS to talk about the  extent to which                                                               
they  can enforce  federal law  but under  current law  the state                                                               
absolutely could not prosecute those offenses.                                                                                  
CHAIR COGHILL asked  either Captain Duxbury or  Captain Lowden to                                                               
talk about working with and  taking on the responsibility of both                                                               
state and federal law.                                                                                                          
CAPTAIN DUXBURY said the Department  of Public Safety has a solid                                                               
relationship with  the Drug Enforcement  Agency, but  these drugs                                                               
need  to   be  placed  on   the  state  schedule   of  controlled                                                               
substances. The amount of the drug  needed to make a federal case                                                               
is  large compared  to the  small amount  that can  devastate the                                                               
lives of  people in these  small Alaskan villages. He  noted that                                                               
they regularly use  state statute to enforce drug  laws and deter                                                               
folks  from  making  money  out  of  other  people's  misery  and                                                               
weakness. He  also discussed the  problem that Alaska is  a poly-                                                               
drug-use area.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR COGHILL said he hadn't  really thought about how many drugs                                                               
will be  added to each  other, but  if it's possible  to identify                                                               
one drug more clearly than another it makes enforcement easier.                                                                 
CAPTAIN DUXBURY said he agrees with the statement.                                                                              
CHAIR COGHILL  asked if law  enforcement is alert to  U-47700 and                                                               
if it can be readily identified.                                                                                                
CAPTAIN DUXBURY said it is  readily available for purchase on the                                                               
internet and from several smoke  shops. To date three deaths have                                                               
been  attributed   to  U-4770.   The  Troopers  and   those  they                                                               
collaborate with are working to  keep children from experimenting                                                               
with pink and other drugs because  they take away the ability for                                                               
youth to become productive members of society.                                                                                  
2:04:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COGHILL  said  he understands  that  enforcement  is  more                                                               
difficult if the drug isn't specifically named.                                                                                 
CAPTAIN  DUXBURY said  pink is  being marketed  toward youth  and                                                               
people with  little money and  he believes  that the only  way to                                                               
get  a handle  on  the drug  epidemic  is through  collaboration,                                                               
education, and  legislation. He noted  that pink doesn't  have as                                                               
much potential  for chemical  change as  Spice, but  still "there                                                               
are several  people that  don't mind making  their profit  off of                                                               
other people's misery."                                                                                                         
CHAIR  COGHILL  asked  DR.  Butler  if he  had  anything  to  add                                                               
regarding communication.                                                                                                        
JAY  BUTLER, Chief  Medical Officer,  Division of  Public Health,                                                               
Department  of Health  and Social  Services  (DHSS), stated  that                                                               
part  of the  outreach  has  been to  the  clinical community  to                                                               
ensure  that  people  are  aware   that  what  may  look  like  a                                                               
prescription  opioid   or  heroin   overdose  may   be  something                                                               
different altogether.  Also, some  of the traditional  drug tests                                                               
may  not identify  some of  the  newer agents.  He mentioned  the                                                               
deaths attributed to U-47700 statewide  and nationally and opined                                                               
that the comparatively  high number in Alaska is due  to the fact                                                               
that Alaska  has been  more aggressive than  other states  in its                                                               
toxicologic testing through the state medical examiner's office.                                                                
Another factor  is that  users sometimes  aren't aware  that what                                                               
looks like a prescription opioid  may be counterfeit. He provided                                                               
an  example  and said  his  office  will  continue to  work  with                                                               
colleagues in public safety and the Department of Law.                                                                          
2:09:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL asked Mr.  Dym if there is a way  for the police to                                                               
identify U-47700 without going through a long testing process.                                                                  
ORIN  DYM,   Manager,  Scientific  Crime   Detection  Laboratory,                                                               
Department  of  Public  Safety  (DPS)  said  there  is  no  field                                                               
instrument to test  for U-47700, but the lab  can turn controlled                                                               
substance analyses around in about 7  days. He added that the lab                                                               
can test for both U-47700 and Tramadol.                                                                                         
CHAIR  COGHILL  asked  Captain Duxbury  if  law  enforcement  can                                                               
readily identify the drug.                                                                                                      
MR.  DYM  replied a  full  analysis  is  necessary. In  the  only                                                               
instance  that  the lab  analyzed  U-4770  it was  a  counterfeit                                                               
tablet. The markings indicated it  was oxycodone and the analysis                                                               
showed it was U-4770.                                                                                                           
CHAIR COGHILL said  he brought it up as a  warning to the public.                                                               
"If they are  willing to destroy your life,  they're also willing                                                               
to take your money by foolery."                                                                                                 
CAPTION DUXBURY  said the  other concern is  that the  mixture of                                                               
more powerful opioids  with counterfeit drugs can  be more potent                                                               
and potentially deadly.                                                                                                         
2:14:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COGHILL commented  on the  need for  appropriate tools  in                                                               
state law.                                                                                                                      
SENATOR MEYER opined that progress  is being made on illegal drug                                                               
use but as  long as there is demand there  will be people willing                                                               
to  make  the product.  He  concluded  that public  education  is                                                               
imperative in  helping stop the  demand and having laws  in place                                                               
will keep some  people from going into the  business of supplying                                                               
opioids illegally.                                                                                                              
2:17:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL held SB 20 in committee for further consideration.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 20 - Explanation of Changes (Ver. A to Ver. D).pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Letter of Support ABADA AMHB Executive Director.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Letter of Support DPoL Attorney General.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Letter of Support DHSS Chief Medical Officer.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Support Material Federal Register DEA-440.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Support Material NBC News Article 10.15.16.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Support Material Pharmacy Times Article 8.21.14.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Support Material SOA Epidemiology Bulletin.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 20 - Support Material WSJ Article 11.4.16.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 20
SB 6 - Sectional Analysis.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 6
SB 6 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 6
SB 6 - Supporting Documents - Alaska Industrial Hemp Grow 1916.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 6
SB 6 - Supporting Documents - Commercial Hemp Chart.png SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 6
SB 6 - Supporting Documents - KPEDD.pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 6
SB 6 - Explanation of Changes (Ver. A to Ver. U).pdf SJUD 2/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 6