Sunday, January 15, 2006

Another fine meth: a whine

An annoying law goes into effect in Illinois today. The state will try to combat illegal methamphetamine production by hassling innocent allergy sufferers. The Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act is Illinois' latest move in the ritual panic over the drug du jour. The new law requires retailers to keep products containing pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacy counter. Consumers purchasing them must show ID and sign a log. Additionally, a consumer cannot buy more than 2 packages at once, and no more than 7500 mg per month. I'm sure the law is well-intentioned, but, as the owner of overly-productive sinuses, I don't like it. It will inconvenience me, cost me money, and possibly make me a criminal — all without really affecting the illegal drug trade.

The state already requires pseudoephedrine to be kept behind the counter, which is annoying enough. Signing a log means that now there's more to do, so buying it will take longer. Another gripe is that packages don't come larger than ten days worth, so I can't even get a month's supply at a time.

And it will become more expensive. Over-the-counter drugs with pseudoephedrine have gone up fifteen or twenty percent since last year's round of state restrictions. The new rules will drive costs up and volume down, so prices will ratchet up again.

The new law may turn me into a criminal. I'm allergic to everything, including the nitrogen in the earth's atmosphere. Without allergy drugs, I am a veritable geyser of mucus. With recommended doses, I am still a fountain of snot. It takes more to get my flow down to a reasonable level. The new law will criminalize ordinary behavior by regular allergy sufferers, too. If you pick up medicine for both yourself and a family member, you will probably purchase more than 7500 mg in a month (a month's worth for one person is 7440 mg). The first time you do it, it's a Class A misdemeanor, you criminal. Third time is a Class 4 felony (and you're eligible for the House Republican leadership).

The new law won't do much to reduce illegal meth production. In the short term, it will have the same effect as crackdowns in other drug panics: there may be a brief drop in supply as the as small-timers (like this amazing loser) get forced out, but the big guys will consolidate, and end up bigger than ever. In the long run, they'll find another process to make speed. That's exactly happened when phenylacetone became a controlled substance: crooks started making meth from pseudoephedrine. The next wave in crank manufacture may involve brewer's yeast, which suggests a new selling point: organic meth. (So what if organic meth is nasty, processed, harmful shit that goes against everything the organic movement stands for? So are organic Cheetos.)

There's only one difference between today's meth mania and other drug panics. Previous crackdowns targeted drugs associated with minorities and city folks. Meth tends to be a larger problem in rural areas.

This isn't a complete and utter whine, because I still have something to be grateful for. I'm just glad the authorities haven't restricted every meth ingredient with an innocent use. For example, dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) is still widely available. DHMO is essential for meth production (and is also used to increase marijuana yields). But DHMO is necessary for legal industry and agriculture, and so — despite the many dangers associated with DHMO — it is pretty easy to get. I take DHMO every day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're anger would be better directed towards the idiots that drive the demand for meth as opposed to those of us trying to deny easy access to the main ingredient used for its manufacture.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

DHMO *smirk* The most dangerous monoxide . . . and doubtless explosive as hell, too, I'll bet ;o)

There are better drugs than sudafed. Email me or post over at my boogers blog if you wanna talk about it.

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you thought about getting a prescription for your allergies instead of relying on OTC meds? I doubt the government in Illinois is trying to make you into a "criminal" because you have allergies....

11:19 PM  
Blogger Ken Houghton said...

Anonymous - Speaking for those of us in households where both prescription and non-prescription allergy medidcations are used, and who live in a household with more than one person (i.e., multiple sufferers), the choice becomes being criminalised or not having one person do all the shopping.

So meth makers, who have clientele, will be able to get around this easily (go buy me some stuff if you want any), while households with multiple allergy-sufferers will see all of the gains from the generic availability of allergy medication be monetized again.

It's not a pro-War on Drugs bill; it's a pro-Pharmaceutical Company Profits bill.

12:12 PM  

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