Legislature(2017 - 2018)

2018-01-19 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2018-01-19                     House Journal                      Page 2207
HB 291                                                                                                                        
HOUSE BILL NO. 291 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                                                   
the Governor, entitled:                                                                                                         
     "An Act relating to scheduled substances; relating to the                                                                  
     Controlled Substances Advisory Committee; and authorizing the                                                              
     attorney general to schedule substances by emergency regulation."                                                          
was read the first time and referred to the Judiciary and Finance                                                               

2018-01-19                     House Journal                      Page 2208
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                                             
1.  Zero, Dept. of Corrections                                                                                                  
2.  Zero, Dept. of Health & Social Services                                                                                     
3.  Zero, Dept. of Law                                                                                                          
4.  Zero, Dept. of Public Safety                                                                                                
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 17 follows:                                                                     
"Dear Speaker Edgmon:                                                                                                           
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill allowing the Attorney General to                                                         
schedule controlled substances by regulation on an emergency basis.                                                             
Currently, State law requires the Legislature to pass legislation before                                                        
a substance can be added to the list of controlled substances in Alaska.                                                        
This process takes time, often years, and even once a bill is passed,                                                           
drug traffickers often stay one step ahead of the law by simply                                                                 
changing a chemical component of a drug so it is no longer considered                                                           
a controlled substance.                                                                                                         
In recent years, this has become a significant problem for substances                                                           
such as spice and other synthetic opioids. For example, tramadol has                                                            
an opioid-like effect on the body. This drug is on the federal controlled                                                       
substances list, but was not a controlled substance in Alaska until                                                             
recently, through inclusion as a schedule IVA controlled substance                                                              
through Section Two, Chapter One, 4SSLA 2017. Tramadol pills sell                                                               
for approximately five to ten dollars per pill in Alaska depending on                                                           
where the pills are sold. School-age children are common abusers of                                                             
the drug because of the easy acquisition and low cost. Before being                                                             
scheduled as a controlled substance, State and local authorities could                                                          
not seize the drug for prosecution without approval from federal                                                                
authorities. Further, State prosecutors could not prosecute cases of                                                            
tramadol abuse and federal prosecutors did not have the resources to                                                            
adequately address those cases.                                                                                                 
To avoid a repeat of this situation, this bill would allow the Attorney                                                         
General to schedule substances by emergency regulation. Before                                                                  
scheduling a substance, the Attorney General would need to assess the                                                           

2018-01-19                     House Journal                      Page 2209
danger of the substance and consult with both the Controlled                                                                    
Substances Advisory Committee and the State's Chief Medical                                                                     
Officer. Additionally, the bill does not impair the ability of the                                                              
Legislature, through enactment of law, from annulling a regulation, or                                                          
adding a substance to the controlled substance statutory schedules.                                                             
Allowing the Attorney General to schedule these dangerous substances                                                            
by regulation would make us more agile and responsive when new or                                                               
altered substances are identified. With this bill, the State would be able                                                      
to keep up with drug traffickers as they alter these substances and                                                             
enable the state to prosecute cases involving these new substances. We                                                          
cannot continue to allow drug traffickers to be one-step ahead of us.                                                           
Let us make a Safer and Smarter Alaska. I urge your prompt and                                                                  
favorable action on this measure.                                                                                               
Bill Walker