Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Are We Winning the War on Sniffles?

Do laws restricting pseudoephedrine sales "work" to reduce meth? I've argued that they've enriched organized crime, and that other states like Texas that mimicked Oklahoma's first-of-its-kind law were merely grandstanding while ignoring the obvious substitution problem. Kip Esquire brilliantly called the fad "the War on Sniffles." So are we winning? I guess it depends on what you thought the goals were.

Quite a few older Grits posts in the archives sometimes get comments, and this one came in yesterday here from an anonymous Okie that I thought was worth responding to:
The meth law in Oklahoma has closed down the "mom and pop" meth labs here. Children were being exposed to the noxious chemicals these labs produced, and the toxic waste that was being dumped on our backroads and in our rivers and streams has been halted. The restrictions on the sale of "pseudo" were directly responsible for these changes. Now instead of a thousand amatuer chemists, law enforcement can focus on the Mexican "superlabs." oh, and by the way, whining about the inconvenience of having to show ID to buy items containing this chemical sort of makes you look like an asshole (or a pissed-off tweaker that can't get his supply of "pseudo")
Here was my response:
If you think more addicts, more property crime and more violence means the law "works," then more power to you. Meth labs were bad - are they worse than organized crime? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? US drug policy is chasing its own tail. This law didn't improve things, at best it just shifted profits and enviro hazards to Mexico, at worst caused your addicts who used to cook at home to rob your house to buy the drugs from the Mexican cartels.

This is a silly law - further evidence that the best thing ever to come out of Oklahoma is still I-35. ;)
Michael at Corrections Sentencing has echoed that NIMBY-ish response, but with cartel feuding piling up bodies on the border, problems that he didn't want in his backyard are worsening problems in Texans'. (Michael, don't think I won't be looking for ways during the next legislative session Texas can dump some of our problems on Wisconsin! ;) )

What do y'all think? Was a reduction in environmental hazards of meth labs (or, rather, shifting the problem to so-called superlabs in California and Mexico), worth the consequences of enriching drug cartels, higher addiction rates, increasing overdoses from higher potency, and boosting property crime and violence associated with addicts getting money to purchase from the cartels?

Y'all know what I think, but I'm curious about readers' opinion: Was it worth it?

UPDATE: Michael at Corrections Sentencing responds here.

4 comments:

Scott Johnson said...

To further point out the stupidity of this law, I would like to mention that when I go to the pharmacy to pick up my wife's Adderall prescription, I am not required to show ID. Adderall is a combination of four amphetamine salts. It's essentially speed that is prescribed for ADD/ADHD. And it's a lot easier to get that from my pharmacy that it is to get Sudafed these days. THAT is stupid.

800 pound gorilla said...

Here in Oregon it requires a prescription to get medications with pseudoephedrin. Of course, this only applies to meds where it can't be converted to smokeable form. This excludes Nyquil.

This exemption should highlight the problem: that whenever a drug is criminalized it will be sold in smokeable form. Maybe when they criminalize Adderall, it will be smoked by those buying from criminals. The genius who invents a smokeable form of coffee will drive a stake into the heart of the drug war. Imagine how many drug labs could be run with coffee houses as fronts!

800 pound gorilla said...

Oh and BTW, it surely must be a bonus for doctors and health care providers. Imagine being able to charge for an office call every time someone self medicates for cold or the flu! Of course, if you are low income you're SOL.

Anonymous said...

I have severe allergic rhinitus. Hay Fever that is so bad my eyelids get so red and irritated that the insides of my lids swell out until they are visible all around my eyes.

Nose runs like a faucet, (I have had it drip out on the floor in public places when I was speaking to someone). At home I have had to sometimes just plug both nostrils with tissue to be able to function without dripping everywhere. Powerful and constant sneezing, itching, swollen throat, ears, and mouth and sometimes ashma type symptoms.

You can't keep your eyes open to drive when you sneeze constantly.

I suffer from these allergies year round with some seasons worse than others. Nothing has helped me except Drixoral and nothing created since then, more "modern" medicine, has helped nearly as well and with as few side effects as Drixoral.

I took two a day, prescription, for years and years. Then it was made over the counter. I still took two a day every day...not just waiting for the worst days...but taking it every day in hopes of preventing the worst days.

Now I can only get twenty a month. My husband buys twenty and there I am with enough for twenty days of the month.

Mostly, I try to do without, but on occasion, my daughter buys some if I have to have it in addition to what my husband and I buy.

It's really irritating and because of the severity of my symptoms, quite anxiety provoking. Then my migraines increase because of worrying about being without Drixoral.

I guess I'll just have to ask my doctor for a prescription for sixty a month, if they can do that.

Other psuedoephedrine products didn't work for me.

It better be helping the world be a better place, since now, I have to to go through this anxiety and enduring more symptoms of my allergies.