Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Crack Down on Illegal Pharmacies, Raise Legal Smoking Age
Assembly member Ken Maddox (R-Garden Grove) on Tuesday introduced a bill (AB 261) that would increase from a misdemeanor to a felony the penalty for the sale of medications without a prescription, the Orange County Register reports. Maddox, who proposed similar legislation last year, proposed the bill to crack down on illegal pharmacies in the state (Quach, Orange County Register, 2/6). Low-income residents, often immigrants, in many cases use the pharmacies as a source of inexpensive medications that can be obtained without a prescription from a physician; the pharmacies in some cases sell illegally manufactured or expired treatments. In the past few years, several Orange County children have died from treatments obtained at illegal pharmacies (California Healthline, 7/9/02). A Los Angeles federal grand jury in December 2000 indicted 17 individuals for the operation of illegal pharmacies and clinics in San Fernando Valley and Orange County (California Healthline, 12/6/00).
In other legislative news, Sen. Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) last week introduced a bill (AB 221) that would raise the state's legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill would raise the legal smoking age on Jan. 1, 2004, but would exempt individuals between ages 18 and 21 on that date. Koretz introduced similar legislation last year; the Assembly last August passed the bill, but the legislation did not reach the Senate floor for a vote. Supporters, such as the California Medical Association and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, maintain that the legislation would help reduce teenage smoking rates. According to opponents, however, 18- to 21-year-olds should have the ability to decide for themselves whether to smoke (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 2/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.