The last time I bought Ny-Quil, there was a remark on the receipt about it being a restricted quantity item. At the time I assumed people were abusing it somehow, but I never got around to looking it up.

Now I know why. Apparently, pseudoephedrine can be used to make methamphetamine, and some states are considering further restricting sales of over-the-counter drugs like Ny-Quil and Sudafed—making people ask a pharmacist, for example, so sales can be tracked more easily. (At present, California only restricts the quantity bought in a single purchase, which is completely non-intrusive to people who just want to breathe comfortably for the next week.)

Y’know, I have no problem with limiting the quantities purchased (as long as the limits are reasonable), and I can live with standing in line at the pharmacy if I have to—but some of the suggestions are to require you to “show identification—and even enter [your] addresses in a law enforcement database.” Excuse me? What do the police care if I have a cold? New! More government scrutiny of your life, brought to you by the War on Drugs(tm)!

As to the likely success of this effort, consider this quote from the the LA Times article:

As much as 80% of the methamphetamine available in the U.S. comes from organized crime rings cooking up huge quantities of the drug in California or across the border in Mexico. Restrictions on sales of Sudafed would do little to stop them.

The controls are aimed, instead, at meth brewed in small makeshift labs, primarily in the Midwest.

Great, so having the police track people who get colds will accomplish at most a 20% reduction in supply… until meth addicts cook up a new recipe that doesn’t use Sudafed.

4 thoughts on “Ruining it for the rest of us

  1. Just say no to Sudafed
    We read in the NY Times today that states are planning to restict sales of pseudophedrine (the decongestant often known by the name brand Sudafed). The reason is that home chemists can use it as an ingrediant to manufacture

  2. […] A few months ago I discovered that medications containing pseudoephedrine were labeled “restricted quantity items” at the local Sav-On because it can be used to make meth. Today I found that the shelf space that used to hold both brand-name Sudafed and the store brand now holds cards which direct you to the pharmacy. The boxes aren’t actually in the pharmacy in this store, they’re in a case up front, but the cards are pre-printed, and they say to go to the pharmacy. […]

  3. If people want to manufacture they send 20 people to random stores and make the purchases then conbine. You purchase the rest of the ingredents (wich aren’t restricted in any way or any where) and you do the cooking, give them a crumb or two, that’s 99.9% profit. It takes $80 of materials to turn it to $1,200 if made properly. You can put restrictins in every state and we’ll never go thirsty. If there is a will there is a way.

  4. cope: Yet another example of the split in this country between those who want/don’t want things done and those who actually do them. I’d wondered if the scenario would fall out as you describe. Seems perfectly logical to me……what’s wrong with the average lawmaker?

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