Simitian's bill to limit cough-medicine sales to minors advances

State Senate votes 37-0 to back Palo Alto lawmaker's bid to restrict sale of cough medicine with dextromethorphan

Joe Simitian's bid to ban sales of certain cough medicine to minors easily sailed through the state Senate Tuesday afternoon (May 31).

Senate Bill 514 specifically targets medicine with dextromethorphan (DXM), which produces intoxication and hallucinations when ingested in high quantities -- a practice known as "robotripping." The bill was proposed in 2004 by two Palo Alto police officers, Wayne Benitez and Ron Lawrence, as part of Simitian's annual "There Oughta Be a Law" contest.

Though the bill proved a tough sell the first time around and ultimately died in the Legislature, Simitian revived it this year. On Tuesday, the Senate approved the bill 37-0.

Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said in a statement that the idea of banning DXM sales for minors was "ahead of its time" when initially introduced. Today, he said, the problem is better understood.

He cited a report from the California Poison Control System that claims that DXM abuse calls for children younger than 17 have increased by 850 percent over the past decade, making it the most commonly reportedly type of abuse in this age group.

"Back in 2004 Officers Benitez and Lawrence were on top of an emerging problem," Simitian said in a statement. "But most of my colleagues had never heard of 'robotripping' or 'skittling,' and figured if they'd never heard of it, then it probably wasn't a problem."

Simitian also noted in his statement that the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the California Peace Officers Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the California State Board of Pharmacy all support the new bill.

SB 514 would make it an infraction to sell drugs with DXM to minors unless they have a prescription.

Gennady Sheyner

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Like this comment
Posted by Andrea
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

Wow! Great work! We are so happy to see ahead of their time thinkers on the PAPD!

Like this comment
Posted by Give me back my Adult ability to choose!!!
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

Only if I can get back my ability as a Mom of 3, for 5 in family total, to buy enough cough syrup at one time, let alone in one month, for my family!! It is ridiculous how my husband and I have to team-buy in the winter months to make sure we have enough on hand for all of us.

Like this comment
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

Thanks, Joe, for yet another unnecessary intrusion into my life.

I have a relative (a minor) who goes to school in another jurisdiction. Due to laws such as this, he was unable to procure standard, over-the-counter medication when he took ill. But that's ok - just because he actually needed the medication doesn't mean we shouldn't "protect" all the children out there.

I am keenly looking forward to the 1-ply (aka Sheryl Crow) toilet paper restrictions, sure to come soon from the esteemed State Senator.

Like this comment
Posted by Arch Conservative
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

And where do we stand on the budget?
Senator- you are paid , and paid very well, to get important things like the budget passed- not to champion "feel good" inane laws like this.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Whoa. So an undocumented person will not be able to buy an over-the-counter cough medicine in California?

Yikes, I have a bottle of Tussin DM Non-Drowsy right here. USP 10 mg dextromethorphan HBr. Do not exceed 6 doses in 24 hours. Keep out of reach of children. Better lock it in the gun cabinet.

Like this comment
Posted by Devon
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Because of liberal knuckleheads like you, who have no idea what your child does, creates a lot of problems for others. If parents would do a better job of parenting, instead of blaming others, we would all be better off. Great job Joe!

Like this comment
Posted by PAPD-Critic
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 1, 2011 at 8:58 pm

400,000 in California alone have exhausted their unemployment benefits and his focus is on cough medicine? Let me clear my sinuses of his tie....

Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 1, 2011 at 9:38 pm

It's very easy for people to stand back and judge when they have never experienced or seen a child over dose on the common cough syrup.

Could this pose an inconvenience for some, maybe but will it save lives...yes. So for the people complaining, why not stand back and look at the bigger picture.

Like this comment
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Dear Neighbor Ann,

re: maybe but will it save lives

I don't doubt your or the Senator's good intentions. But "maybe" is not a good reason for creating intrusive laws.

As others have written, we are facing serious economic circumstances. The Senator should focus on those (or resign), and not waste our time and money on new laws.

Like this comment
Posted by Been There, Done That
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm

They already keep the most-widely-abused formulations of DXM behind the pharmacy counter (subject to an ID check). Why do we need yet another law? This just smacks of nanny-state mentality.

Lawmakers should be focusing on bills that really matter...

Like this comment
Posted by Give me back my Adult ability to choose!!!
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

Ann, I am sure you mean well....but I can not find a SINGLE story about a teen ODing on cough syrup..

And, frankly, even if one had, it doesn't matter WHAT we do, that teen would get enough cough syrup to do what he wants. Like Pot, alcohol or cigarettes, it simply doesn't matter what is or isnt' illegal, if one is bound to ingest.

really, this is just a stupid law.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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