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A Step Too Far In The War Against Meth

2.17.15 – EditorialNews-Sentinel

This article also appeared on FortWayne.com

Requring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine may not be the answer.

How much should law-abiding citizens be made to suffer by laws meant to deter lawbreakers? Restrictions on airline carry-ons are an inconvenience, but having them in place might prevent a bombing, so maybe that’s not too much to ask. Stopping all drivers to catch a few who are drunk takes away our right to reasonable search, so maybe that is too much to ask.

Indiana lawmakers are wrestling with that tradeoff as they consider legislation aimed at curbing methamphetamine traffic. Many states have taken the step of requiring cold and allergy medications containing main meth ingredient pseudoephedrine be kept behind the counter and an ID showed to buy them. Indiana is considering a step only a few states have taken, requiring a prescription for such medications.

It might be a step too far.

“The prescription solution is not viewed by all, including knowledgeable law enforcement, as the only or right solution,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. Dr. Richard Feldman, director of the family medicine residency program at Franciscan St. Francis Health in Indianapolis, says said the prescription requirement doesn’t target drug trafficking.

Evidence from Oregon bears him out. It has had the prescription law since 2006, but meth is still readily available. What has changed are the suppliers. Instead of coming from makeshift basement and garage labs, a large amount of meth now comes from “superlabs” in Mexico that could also bring the attendant effects of organized crime. Restricting decongestants has also given rise to the very dangerous “shake and bake” method of production, which involves shaking a cocktail of volatile chemicals in a two-liter bottle.

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