A SWAT for catching drug dealers by punishing consumers
Technically speaking pseudoephedrine already is behind the counter, though you don't need a prescription. It has been since 2006, when a federal change snuck in as part of the Patriot Act reauthorization began requiring those buying many common cold medicines to produce photo identifications and sign registries. Have a stuffy nose when there's no pharmacist on duty? Too bad.
The goal was to curb the supply of pseudoephedrine available to meth makers who use the decongestant as an ingredient in the illegal drug.
We sure showed them. Meth production migrated to Mexico, while legitimate drug makers began using less-effective ingredients in cold medications so the products could be sold in stores without 24-7 pharmacies.
Score one for the meth heads at the expense of the stuffy heads.
The latest round of "tough on drugs" legislation includes bills by California state Sen. Roderick Wright and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon that would make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only.
So we want to force law-abiding citizens to see a doctor to get prescriptions - one you just know the insurance companies aren't going to cover, and why should they? - for a medication that's already a pain in the neck to buy. And we want to do it in the name of keeping drug dealers from buying it in mass quantities - which currently law already prohibits on a retail basis.
In the California version of the bill, at least, a violation is a misdemeanor. You have to wonder if someone with enough disregard for the law to operate a meth lab is going to fret much over the possibility of an additional minor charge. It's about as likely as Willie Sutton biting his nails over possession of burglary tools.
Law-abiding citizens will, however, worry about it and dutifully pay for the doctor's visit to get their legal piece of paper. Medical offices will be clogged with stuffy heads every year when seasonal pollen erupts. Governments already struggling to pay for health care programs will face yet another layer of costs.
All for something that will leave the outlaws rolling on the floor laughing somewhere in Mexico.
Sens. Wright and Wyden, Stop Wasting American's Time. And stop wasting honest taxpayers' money by forcing them to pay more than they have to to ease a stuff nose.
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Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.