I’m fighting a terrible cold right now. Between sneezes and coughs, I’ve been reading Jon Sanders’ column about the latest idea to force me to visit a doctor to get a prescription for certain kinds of cold medicines currently available over the counter. It’s all done with the best of intentions of course. The idea is that if we ban even more medications from store shelves, meth addicts won’t get what they want and, presto, meth addictions will decrease. That, of course, is wishful thinking. As Sanders points out, this isn’t the first time lawmakers have attempted to shut down access for addicts, who, in turns out, can be rather resourceful people.
The key ingredient to making meth is … dependent upon the policies in effect. A quick summary on that point:
- Originally meth makers used phenyl-2-propanone, which was restricted in the 1980s
- Next they moved over to ephedrine, until the late ’90s, when large quantities were restricted
- So the next move was to pseudoephedrine, and regulators have reacted accordingly, trying to restrict access to pseudoephedrine (anyone remember John Edwards’ campaign to limit access to over-the-counter cold medicine?)
- Now meth-makers are adopting new methods that require very small amounts of pseudoephedrine and personal “laboratories” so small they can fit (at great personal risk, of course) on the passenger seat of a car, in a purse, or even in some idiot’s pants
- They can also switch to methylamine and the amino acid phenylalanine, and there was recently a curious case of a woman arrested in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart mixing meth right there on a store shelf using, among other things,sulfuric acid, drain cleaner, and lithium, but not pseudoephedrine
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