West Virginia Delegate Larry Kump (R) has a primary challenge from a 17-year old high school student.
Her name is Saira Blair. Saira is the daughter of State Senator Craig Blair (R).
It’s only December, but Kump must be feeling the heat from the high schooler.
How can we tell?
It’s fully five months before the May 14, 2014 West Virginia primary and Kump has already started robocalling.
Today’s Blair robocall had six questions.
Question number four caught our interest.
It went like this:
“There will be yet another push in the West Virginia legislature this year to make Sudafed cold medicine only available to you with a doctor’s prescription. If this happens, you will have to take off work, pay for a doctor’s appointment, and pay even more for Sudafed than you do now. How important is it for you to be able to continue purchasing this medicine without a doctor’s prescription? Press one if you think you should not be forced to see a doctor to buy cold medicine. Press two if you think you should have to see a doctor first before you can buy Sudafed.”
We rang up Jason Grellner to get his response to Kump’s robocall.
Turns out that law enforcement personnel, narcotics officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and first responders almost universally favor legislation putting pseudoephedrine products on prescription.
Because, according to Grellner, upwards of 80 percent of all pseudoephedrine sales in the United States are being used to make meth.
And meth labs pose health risks to narcotics officers and other law enforcement officials — from fire, explosion, inhalation and meth waste.
“All of the chemicals these individuals use are to be used in well ventilated areas,” Grellner said. “When individuals start using these indoors is when you get your greatest risk to fire and inhalation. Law enforcement officers get hurt. Children get hurt.”
Grellner himself is missing 27 percent of his lung capacity from a meth lab incident.
“It’s very hard to do an investigation at meth lab, walk into a house in a moon suit with a respirator on and hold a conversation with individuals about whether or not they are manufacturing methamphetamine,” he says.
Grellner says that the question Kump posed is very similar to questions being posed by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association — the trade group representing the makers of pseudoephedrine products — Big Pharma.
“A more fair and balanced question would be — Would you mind getting a prescription for pseudoephedrine if it meant ending meth labs in West Virginia?”
Grellner says that Kump’s assertion that if West Virginia passes prescription only legislation “you will pay even more for Sudafed than you do now” is “an out and out lie.”
Both Oregon and Mississippi have crippled their meth labs by passing similar legislation, he says.
And in both states “there was no increase the price of pseudoephedrine,” Grellner said.
In addition, the West Virginia prescription law would reportedly exempt tamper-resistant pseudoephedrine products — products like Nexafed and Zephrex-D — that can’t be cooked into pseudoephedrine.
“Big Pharma is just out to try and protect it’s sales of 75 million boxes of pseudoephedrine products a year,” Grellner says. “That’s $1 billion in gross sales.”
“I understand the right wing tea party ideology,” Grellner said. “The problem is when you are trying to force ideology into reality.”
“If you are going to be fiscally conservative, you have to ask yourself — why do West Virginia taxpayers need to continue to pay for meth lab clean ups and enforcement when we can prevent the harm from happening by passing this legislation?” Grellner said.
At the end of Kump’s robocall, our delegate says — “please don’t hesitate to call me here at home — 304.274.3104.”
Grellner says he called Kump and talked to him about pseudoephedrine and meth.
“He understood the nature of the drug, understood the hazards, and the dangers of fire and explosions,” Grellner said. “But to him, it’s all about liberty. And he said he wasn’t going to change his mind.”
“I’ve run into this ideology before,” Grellner said.
“How about my freedom and liberty to go hiking and not find meth lab wastes on the trail?” Grellner asks. “How about my liberty to lease or rent a property in West Virginia and not have to worry about whether there was a meth lab in the property?”
As for the legislation, Delegate Don Perdue (D), a chief sponsor of the pseudoephedrine on prescription bill, says he already has five Republicans signed on to the legislation and the bill has a good chance of passage in the upcoming session.