Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

(a) As used in this Code section, the term: (1) Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine means any drug product containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine or any of their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, alone or in a mixture. (2) Georgia Meth Watch means the program entitled Georgia Meth Watch or a similar program which has been promulgated, approved, and distributed by the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. (3) Pharmacy has the same meaning as in Code Section 26-4-5. (4) Real-time electronic logging system means an electronic system approved by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation which is operated in real time and which can track required information and generate a stop sale alert to notify a pharmacy that a purchase of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine which exceeds the quantity limits set forth in this Code section is being attempted. Such system shall: (A) Contain an override function that will not only allow a pharmacy to complete a sale in violation of this Code section when the person making the sale is in reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm if he or she does not complete the sale but also will track any override sales made; (B) Be accessible to the state, pharmacies, and law enforcement agencies, without a charge or fee, including a transaction fee; and (C) Have real-time interstate communicability with similar systems in other states. (5) Required information means the full name and address of the purchaser; the type of government issued photographic identification presented, including the issuer and identification number; a description of the nonprescription product purchased which contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, including the number of grams of pseudoephedrine in the product; and the date and time of the purchase.

(b)(1) It shall be unlawful for any person, other than a person or entity described in paragraph (22), (28), (29), (30), (33), or (41) of Code Section 26-4-5, to possess any product that contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in an amount which exceeds 300 pills, tablets, gel-caps, capsules, or other individual units or more than 9 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine or a combination of these substances, whichever is smaller. (2) It shall be unlawful for any person to possess any product containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture amphetamine or methamphetamine. (3) Any person who violates the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years.

(c)(1) Products whose sole active ingredient is pseudoephedrine may be offered for retail sale only if sold in blister packaging. Nonprescription products whose sole active ingredient is ephedrine or pseudoephedrine shall only be sold in a pharmacy in a manner which complies with State Board of Pharmacy rules established pursuant to Code Section 16-13-29.2. (2) No person shall distribute or purchase any nonprescription product containing more than 3.6 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine per day in dosage form or more than 9 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine per 30 day period in dosage form of any product. The limits set forth in this paragraph shall apply to the total amount of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine contained in the product and not the overall weight of such product. (3) The pharmacy shall maintain a record of required information for each sale of a nonprescription product which contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine for a period of two years from the date of each transaction. Except as to law enforcement agencies in this state which shall be provided immediate access by a pharmacy to all written and electronic logs or records upon request, the records maintained by a pharmacy pursuant to this Code section shall not be disclosed. Pharmacies may destroy the required information collected pursuant to this subsection after two years from the date of the transaction. (4)(A) On and after January 1, 2017, pharmacies shall, before completing a sale of a non-prescription product which contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, electronically track all such sales and submit the required information to a real-time electronic logging system. A pharmacy shall not complete the sale of a non-prescription product which contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine if the real-time electronic logging system generates a stop sale alert except as provided in subparagraph (a)(4)(A) of this Code section. (B) If a pharmacy selling a nonprescription product which contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine experiences mechanical or electronic failure of the real-time electronic logging system and is unable to comply with the requirements of this paragraph, the pharmacy shall maintain a written log or an alternative electronic recording mechanism until such time as the pharmacy is able to comply with the electronic logging requirement. (C) Absent negligence, wantonness, recklessness, or deliberate misconduct, any pharmacy utilizing the real-time electronic logging system in accordance with this paragraph shall not be civilly liable as a result of any act or omission in carrying out the duties required by this paragraph and shall be immune from liability to any third party unless the pharmacy has violated any provision of this paragraph in relation to a claim brought for such violation. (D) The Georgia Bureau of Investigation shall provide real-time access to records on such logging system through an online portal to law enforcement agencies in this state. (5) It shall be unlawful for a pharmacy to purchase any product containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine from any person or entity other than a manufacturer or a wholesale distributor licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy. (6) This subsection shall preempt all local ordinances or regulations governing the retail sale of products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine except such local ordinances or regulations that existed on or before December 31, 2004. Effective January 1, 2006, this subsection shall preempt all local ordinances. (7)(A) Any person convicted of a violation of paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor which, upon the first conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.00 and, upon the second or subsequent conviction, shall be punished by not more than six months imprisonment or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both. (B) Any person convicted of a violation of paragraph (5) of this subsection shall, upon the first conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon the second or subsequent conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. (C) It shall be a defense to a prosecution pursuant to this paragraph by law enforcement of a pharmacy for violation of paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (5) of this subsection that, at the time of the alleged violation, all of the employees of the pharmacy had completed training complying with standards established under Georgia Meth Watch as such standards existed on June 30, 2016, and the pharmacy was in compliance with procedures established by Georgia Meth Watch as such standards existed on June 30, 2016; provided, however, that this subparagraph shall not apply to the State Board of Pharmacy or prevent it from taking disciplinary action for a violation of this subsection.

(d) This Code section shall not apply to products that the State Board of Pharmacy, upon application of a manufacturer, exempts by rule from this Code section because the product has been formulated in such a way as to prevent effectively the conversion of the active ingredient into methamphetamine or its salts or precursors.

(e) Except as authorized by this article, it is unlawful for any person to possess, have under his or her control, manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, purchase, sell, or possess with intent to distribute any product containing any amounts of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine which have been altered from their original condition so as to be powdered, liquefied, or crushed. This subsection shall not apply to any of the substances identified within this subsection which are possessed or altered for a legitimate medical purpose. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years.