SALEM, Ore. — A bill that aligns Oregon with many other states that have eased access to pseudoephedrine cold medicines, such as Sudafed, was passed by the House and now goes to the Senate.

House Bill 2303 repeals pseudoephedrine and ephedrine as a Class 3 controlled substances.

It calls for the State Board of Pharmacy to adopt rules allowing pharmacists to dispense pseudoephedrine, with proper identifications and strict limits on amounts sold per month.

If adopted, Oregon joins most other states - Washington is one - that use technology in use for several years to better track dispensed medicines, including a real time national database.

The bill repeals a 2005 Oregon law defining cold medicines containing ephedrines and pseudoephedrines as Class 3 controlled substances. Getting them required a doctor's prescription.

That law was implemented at the peak of bulk purchases of cold medicines, which were then used to make meth.

"We had an epidemic in 2005 and making it a prescription was a very good idea," said Rep. Bill Post.

But Post, one of the chief sponsors of HB 2903, said it's time for a change.

"What I want to assure people is 37 other states have this system that I'm trying to implement and it's working. Why should Oregon be different?" Post said.

Post is referring to is the NPLEx system. It tracks who buys the drug and limits how much they can buy per day and month. 

At a previous public hearing on the proposed law, citizens testified about the difficulty of getting cold medicines, especially if they had a high deductible insurance policy. It required a pricey visit to a doctor to get a prescription for a costly drug.

Others, one of them prone to allergies, testified that they were forced to take burdensome, regular trips out of state to purchase cold medicines.

One dissenter was Chief Jim Ferraris of the Woodburn Police Department, who said the practice of "smurfing," where multiple parties purchase cold medicines and pool them together to make meth, will return.

He said both the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriff's Association opposed the bill.