Utah Legislature: Lawmakers change Utah's drug laws

Published: Thursday, March 11 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — At least a dozen measures that generally criminalize possession or abuse of prescription drugs and other controlled substances were adopted or addressed during the 2010 legislative session.

Everything from a prescription muscle relaxant to imitation street drugs came up for review.

The recent spate of robberies at area drug stores of a popular pain reliever, along with overdose deaths of people who had become addicted to various painkillers, initiated the proposals.

HB28 targets the state's fastest-growing drug problem: prescription drug abuse. It improves the state's ability to track controlled substances such as painkillers in an attempt to stop "doctor shopping" for prescriptions.

Sponsor Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, said Utah's annual rate of overdoses is reaching 4,000 a year and is wreaking havoc on families, neighborhoods and communities statewide.

The legislation makes the monitoring of prescription drugs through the state's Department of Professional Licensing database more real-time and more user-friendly. Recent prescription overdose deaths and a spate of pharmacy holdups in which robbers took painkillers but left the cash are signs of how powerful addiction is and are a clear indication that lawmakers can no longer ignore a public safety problem that is not about to go away, Daw said.

HB30, which includes about 200 different types of prescription drugs, including their full chemical composition in the language, was added to the Utah Controlled Substances Act. Each one is described by its chemical properties.

HB35 also amends the act to provide for notification to a practitioner when a person age 12 or older is admitted to a hospital for poisoning by, or overdose of, a prescribed controlled substance that the practitioner may have prescribed to the person.

e-mail: jthalman@desnews.com

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