Friday, November 19, 2010

Drugs, Guns and Stuffy Noses

Today I was reading a bit on phenterminewhich reminded me of pseudophedrine, which led to an article about how making the decongestant illegal, except by prescription, drastically reduced the crime rate in Oregon.  Pseudophedrine is a key ingredient in creating methamphetamine and it appears that out-lawing it may be the most effective method in reducing illegal meth labs (are there legal meth labs?) and lowering related crimes.  Some states have tried various forms of limiting the availability of the drug by making it only available in small quantities behind the pharmacy counter and by tracking, but those interested in manufacturing meth found ways around all the safety precautions and tracking attempts.

A NY Times opinion piece (How to Kill the Meth Monster - Nov. 10, 2010) explains that meth is highly addictive, dangerous and has devastated countless families and individuals and implies that simply making pseudophedrine only available by prescription, or not at all,  is an effective way to drastically reduce the problem.

On the one hand, I agree. It is probably true. I doubt it would be hard to find statistics to back up the thesis. On the other hand, why should I have to go to a doctor (and pay the co-pay and be exposed to all the other sick people in the waiting room) to get a prescription for something I know I need (now at a higher cost because it is by prescription only - supply and demand at work here) that I can currently pick up fairly easily?  I live on the border between Oregon and Washington. In Oregon, you cannot buy pseudophedrine over the counter. The substitutes suck...that is, they do not relieve my nasal congestion.  In Washington, I simply ask my pharmacist for the medication, sign something attesting to my identity, age, weight, height, religious affiliation, and my mother's permission to buy the medication (tracking to make sure I do not buy a suspicious amount of the meth-making ingredient), make my purchase and soon have my nasal congestion under control.  Is it right that my ability to do that is possibly going to be eliminated because a group of drug addicts and criminals want to use the drug to manufacture an illegal substance?

Is this another form of the gun control laws argument?  Those who are going to use a gun/a drug/ heck - even a vehicle, properly are going to go it. Those who choose not to are breaking the laws.  Why are we considering taking away the rights from those not abusing the system because we cannot control those who do abuse it.

Ah, guess that last line answers my own question.


Lynilu said...

Or controlling the borders. Or flying on an airplane. Or .... well, you know.

EH said...

There is a really good Meth Epidemic CLE (Oregon) that goes into the statistics. One of the more interesting ones out there - and free to check out from the county law libraries.