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Fighting Meth By Punishing The Sick?

4.7.15 – Mike Pitts, The Cheraw Chronicle

This article also appeared in The Lancaster News and The Gaffney Ledger

As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen firsthand the unfortunate effects of meth on the state of South Carolina. While meth production is undoubtedly a national issue, South Carolina policymakers and law enforcement cannot ignore the threats presented by the influx of meth coming into the United States from Mexico.

In 2014, more than 15,000 kilograms of meth was seized along the Mexican border, up from 3,000 kilos in 2009; a 500 percent increase. In 2011, lawmakers took steps to reduce the production of meth in the United States through implementation of the National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLEx.

While I have historically opposed such monitoring of pseudoephedrine for the burden it places on small, independent pharmacies, I realize that it has proven effective in exposing the red herring that the pro-regulation groups use to label pseudoephedrine as the culprit when it comes to meth labs.

In states like Alabama for example, NPLEx has resulted in a 79 percent drop in meth labs since 2010. In South Carolina, we have made real progress stopping the illegal diversion of pseudoephedrine into meth. It is important that my colleagues in the General Assembly and fellow law enforcement officials understand that we must stop meth coming into South Carolina from Mexico and not the medications that South Carolinians rely on in order to function on a daily basis.

South Carolina’s progress against meth criminals, however, has not stopped some policymakers in our state from introducing laws that would severely restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase pseudoephedrine by limiting access through prescription requirements. This law would force honest consumers to go to the doctor just to treat runny noses and sinus congestion.

PSE has been safely used to treat colds and allergies since the 1970s. State lawmakers should not punish the majority of law-abiding South Carolinians because of the actions of a criminal minority. Regulating PSE purchases would not only harm families, but the state’s economy as well.

Businesses throughout South Carolina would lose employees to sick days and doctor visits. Physicians would be forced to neglect patients who need real care because all of their patients would now require prescriptions to purchase cold and allergy medication. South Carolinians would cross the border to purchase PSE in states that still allow over-the-counter purchase of the medications they need. Simply put, the effects would be devastating.

Read more here.