It took more than seven years, but a proposal by two Palo Alto officers to restrict sale of certain cough medicines to minors will finally become California law next week.
Senate Bill 514, which was authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and pitched by two officers as part of Simitian's "There Oughta be a Law" contest in 2004, will take effect Jan. 1. The bill will make California the first state in the nation to ban the sale of medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to minors.
Sgt. Wayne Benitez and former Palo Alto officer Ron Lawrence first proposed restricting medicine with DXM in 2004. At the time, few in the Legislature had heard of DXM or the "robotripping" effect it produces. That year, the proposal fizzled in the Legislature.
Since then, abuse of this chemical has skyrocketed. According to a report from the California Poison Control System, DXM abuse for children younger than 17 went up by 850 over the past decade.
Simitian revived the bill again this year and it passed overwhelmingly. The passage means that starting on Jan. 1, store clerks will have to check customers' IDs to make sure they are 18 or older before they can purchase cough and cold medicines containing DXM.
The bill is one of 11 Simitian proposals that will become law in 2012. Others include requiring utility companies to get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020; requiring banks to notify law-enforcement authorities when they suspect financial elder abuse; and extending privacy protections at libraries to electronic content.