Press Release - Thursday, May 25, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs law to curb abuse of cough syrup medication
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation making it illegal to sell or buy the pure form of dextromethorphan (DXM) - a drug commonly used in cough syrups such as Triaminic or Robitussin. House Bill 4300, sponsored by Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Charleston) and Sen. Dale Risinger (R-Peoria), will help counter the availability of highly concentrated DXM on the internet. The level of DXM in prescription and over-the-counter medications is safe in correct doses, but when taken incorrectly it can have hallucinogenic effects similar to PCP and ketamine.
"The idea that kids can go on line and easily get their hands on a dangerous drug is appalling. This law helps put to stop that, and that's why I'm signing it," said Gov. Blagojevich.
House Bill 4300 imposes stiff penalties on offenders who possess, sell, or attempt to sell dextromethorphan that is not received as a prescription or in an over-the-counter form - for instance, its pure form sold over the internet. Possession of DXM alone is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1-3 years in prison. The sale or possession with intent to sell is a Class 2 felony punishable by 3-7 years in prison. The legislation, effective January 1, 2007, passed unanimously in both chambers of the General Assembly.
When taken in large quantities, DXM can cause seizures, comas, and even death. According to The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, common effects include confusion, dizziness, double or blurred vision, slurred speech, loss of physical coordination, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart beat, drowsiness, numbness of fingers and toes, and disorientation. DXM abusers describe different "plateaus" ranging from mild distortions of color and sound to visual hallucinations, "out-of-body" dissociative sensations, and loss of motor control. DXM is also sometimes abused in combination with other medications, alcohol and illegal drugs, which can increase the dangerous side effects. At least 2 deaths in Illinois have been reportedly linked to overdoses on pure DXM.
"I would like to thank the Governor for signing this bill. I hope that the signing of this legislation will prevent future tragedies like the one that happened in my district and Illinois State University," said Rep. Rose.
"A student at Illinois State University died in September 2003 of an overdose of dextromethorphan hydrobromide, a cough suppressant typically found in cold medicine," Risinger said. "The victim had legally purchased the drug in a pure form via the Internet. At least four other U.S. deaths have been attributed to DXM overdoses."
Risinger says Illinois will lead the nation with this new law. In 2003, legislation was introduced in Texas and North Dakota to prohibit the sale of DXM to minors. The proposed legislation did not pass in either state. A similar bill introduced in California last year was also defeated.
Throughout his administration, Gov. Blagojevich has supported measures to combat drug use and improve treatment for drug addicts. In the Fiscal Year 2007 budget, the Governor allocated funds to put more police on the street fight methamphetamine and treat meth addicts, and help prisoners get on their feet upon release so they may lead healthier and more productive lives.
New Police Officers
Governor Blagojevich earmarked $3 million in the new budget to begin training 100 new Illinois State Police cadets. Two new cadet classes of 50 officers each will be trained in FY07 - the first class beginning this summer and the second beginning in June of 2007. In addition, the budget includes $8.4 million to purchase approximately 300 police cars.
Governor Blagojevich provided full funding in the FY 07 budget for the creation of a specialized 200-bed treatment unit for inmates with meth addictions at the 667-bed Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center. The new unit, which will receive $1.9 million from the state and $4.78 million from the federal government, will be modeled after the Sheridan National Model Drug Prison & Reentry program that has shown tremendous success, with a re-incarceration rate that is nearly 50 percent lower than other groups. In Illinois, the number of meth labs dismantled grew from 24 in 1997 to 961 in 2004. In the last three years, Illinois has provided law enforcement with more tools to fight meth and made it easier for prosecutors to go after meth makers. Illinois laws regarding meth are among the toughest in the nation.
In addition, a new investment of $1.6 million will allow the state to implement pilot programs in 19 counties to improve security around anhydrous ammonia tanks and reduce methamphetamine production.
Preparing Prisoners for Reentry
New funding of $5.7 million will enable the Department of Corrections to increase programming in support of parolee reentry, including interview skills and transitional employment. These efforts to prepare inmates to return to their communities will build on Governor Blagojevich's emphasis on reducing recidivism.