Oregon has just passed a state law requiring a prescription to purchase Sudafed and other cold remedies that contain one of the active ingredients necessary for making Methamphetamine. Half measures instituted in the past year, requiring ID and limiting quantities, didn’t slow the meth craze, so now those without health care won’t even be able to treat the sniffles without a $50 cash visit to a doc. The cold medicine companies can use a different formulation of the same ingredient — it treats the symptoms just as well, but can’t be used for kitchen-counter meth labs, but these alternative forms are slightly more expensive, so, well, you know how that goes.
Now that I’ve become something of a meth expert, people ask me how I feel about taking legal, useful items and putting them behind a counter where one needs a permission slip for purchase. I say fine, let’s do it with bullets too. A few people use those items for bad purposes, so let’s make it hard for them to get them. Who can give gun-owners the proper permission slip? Maybe the local police departments could give citizens their prescriptions for bullets. Just a thought.
Skeptics say that meth comes mostly now from Mexico and limiting Sudafed or rat poison or lye purchases won’t stem the tide of this dangerous drug as it floods the bottom rungs of our social ladder. I disagree. Meth has reached places that other drugs don’t because anyone could make it or get it without ever meeting a real criminal.
Meth can be made in your kitchen, or it can be made in your neighbor’s kitchen. Anyone who’s ever baked cookies knows if you’re going to make a mess (in the case of meth, a toxic mess), it doesn’t make sense to stop at just a dozen or two. Better to make plenty and then share your bounty up and down the block.
Marijuana can also be grown at home, but the high isn’t as strong, growing the plants and drying the leaves takes real patience, plus you still have to get the first plant from somebody dealing with an illegal substance. All the necessary pieces for meth can be gotten on the up-and-up, and a Friday decision can produce a weekend high.
Getting meth doesn’t require meeting some thug you don’t know in an alley on the wrong side of the tracks. You can ask your friends and chances are, somebody has a friendly connection. Locking down one active ingredient means people looking for the high will have to venture further outside their comfort zones. Many won’t. To parrot the cliche, it’ll make it easier for honest people to stay honest.
Distribution is a major factor in any epidemic. Once getting a drug involves dealing with a stranger, many will resist the temptation. There’s the risk of getting caught, but there’s also the risk of looking bad, being embarrassed, not knowing the right lingo, showing up in the wrong car, whatever. Meth, up to now, has been a neighborhood affair, much like Avon. Once getting the stuff means dealing with somebody they don’t already know, many more will “just say no.”