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Pseudoephedrine Laws

Author's Note - Since I have moved to Florida in late 2014 this hasn't really been much on an issue.  I am retaining this page just as a record of what I felt about the issue and just in case it does rear it's ugly head again.

December 2013 Update - This seems to have been put on the back burner but I am constantly weary that it will make a comeback, most likely "snuck" into some other legislation.

April 4, 2014 Update - It appears that during the 2014 legislative session that the Kentucky legislature didn't take up any action in an effort to make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug.  Frankly there are much bigger issues like the budget to consider.  Of course I will continue to watch this as my opinion will not change.

Below is my original piece:

This is becoming an annoying annual event here in Kentucky (and who knows where else).  A law is proposed to make over the counter medications containing pseudoephedrine prescription medicines and after much hand wringing the measure is in some manner defeated.  The primary reason is that the vast majority of citizens do not want this to happen and clearly communicate that fact with their elected representatives.  Yes, democracy does work but only when people get involved in a meaningful manner.

I not so jokingly warn people frequently to be very wary of any proposed law that comes from the law enforcement community itself.  Of course they are in favor of more laws; it’s what they do.  With more laws come more (of your) money.  They buy high tech gadgets and outfit themselves like paratroopers (and in some cases Storm Troopers) all in the name of ”protecting” you.

What’s missing from the whole debate is an understanding of what is the end goal (getting people to stop using drugs) and how best to achieve that goal.  It continues to amaze me that what is a social and public health issue somehow has been allowed to become a law enforcement issue.  Just ask any cop and he or she will tell you that law enforcement is the solution to just about any social problems.  In some ways they are correct (if you don’t mind living in a police state) but for the most part absolutely wrong.

Prohibition of anything has never worked in the past and will never work because it (prohibition) seeks to defy one of the most basic laws of economics; that is that as long as there is a demand for a product or service someone will provide it.  I don’t care if it’s drugs, prostitution, gambling or what.  If there is pent up demand, someone will meet it.

I am already somewhat irked by needing to show identification to purchase OTC medicines but I grudgingly acknowledge that since pseudoephedrine can be easily converted to methamphetamine that just like other potentially abused legal products (ammonium nitrite comes to mind), there does need to be some control and accountability.  Still, I do suffer from some at times serious allergies and I feel like a criminal buying my Claritin D which provides me with substantial relief.  I’m still waiting to have to show ID to buy a can of starting fluid at my local Auto Zone or to get Lithium Batteries for my high tech devices.

The advocates for this type of law point out that in a couple other states that have implemented a similar law that the number of meth labs found has gone down.  My question is what has been the net result on actual meth usage?  If someone could prove to me that this law would result in a meaningful reduction in the number of methamphetamine users I would be 100% behind it.  Unfortunately, the law will do nothing about demand.

Here’s an idea; why don’t we put just a little more effort into fixing the social ills that lead to methamphetamine usage instead of making the 99.9% of legitimate users of pseudoephedrine atone for the sins of the few?

I guess that’s just not as sexy as buying another high tech gadget.

Reviewed June 28, 2017

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