But at Least No One Does Meth Anymore

Monday, September 29th, 2008

The Agitatrix developed a cold Saturday night. So I went to CVS to get her some Nyquil. Once there, I saw that in compliance with demands from our Congress, CVS had replaced all medication containing pseudoephedrine with little cards, which you then have to take to the pharmacy, where they ask you to sign a little form indicating you won’t be making any methamphetamine with your purchase. Because everyone knows that the surest way to deter drug dealers is to make them sign little forms.

Problem is, the pharmacy is closed. Which means I have to settle on the crappy Nyquil made with phenylephrine, which I can only guess the drug companies have decided to use as a substitute because it sorta’ sounds like pseudoephedrine. The stuff is actually pretty worthless as an antihistamine.

Which means that thanks to the new federal law, you can pretty much forget about late-night trips to the drug store to get a working over-the-counter antihistamine, unless you happen to live near a 24-hour pharmacy. Oh, and don’t even think about stocking up on the stuff. That’ll land your ass in jail.

I guess the lesson is, before you decide to get a cold, be sure you have some–but not too much–real cold medicine in the house, the kind for which you had to let the government know you purchased.

All of this got me curious. So I looked up the first person arrested under the Combat Meth Act. It was a 36-year-old Ontario, New York man named William Fousse. The DEA was so giddy about his arrest that they actually put out a press release celebrating their apprehension of the dangerous, menacing Mr. Fousse.

Guess what? There was apparently no evidence the poor guy was actually making meth. He said he stocked up on the medication to combat the sniffles when he got a hangover. He was convicted only of purchasing too much cold medicine, which, just to reiterate, is now a federal crime. In January of this year, he was sentenced to a year of probation.

Honestly. They think we’re a nation of damned children.

MORE: As noted in the comments, my science-challenged self should have used the word “decongestant” instead of “antihistamine.”

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35 Responses to “But at Least No One Does Meth Anymore”

  1. #1 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    Actually I think pseudoephedrine is a vasoconstrictor rather than an antihistamine. It reduces blood supply to the nasal mucosa rather than reduce immune system reactions. Phenylephrine is also a vasoconstrictor.

  2. #2 |  Radley Balko | 

    #1 — Noted.

    But unless there have been newer studies, those I’ve seen shows that phenylephrine is no more effective at decongesting (if I may coin a word) than a placebo. Pseudoephedrine, on the other hand, works quite well.

  3. #3 |  jac | 

    I despise this law. Three of us in my house have allergies and use the stuff daily. My wife generally makes three stops when she goes out shopping to get enough to last more than a few days.

  4. #4 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Every Congresscriter that voted for this goddamned law should be strapped down and their sinuses filled with quick-drying cement.

    While we are on the subject of Pharmacies and Congress; does anybody now if the following is true;

    Supposedly the new (in the last couple of years), more cumbersome rules about ‘privacy’ at the Pharmacy stem from one Congrescitter’s experience being asked out loud by his Pharmacist if “the Viagra worked?”. Problem was, he was with his wife …. who didn’t know about the Viagra.

    If it IS true, somebody needs to take the jerk aside and explain to him that people who cheat on their wives are SUPPOSED to get caught.

  5. #5 |  Lou W | 

    As a chronic sinus sufferer I had to hit three stores in a week once too (on Doctor’s orders I was supposed to be taking extra doses). I asked the pharmacists though, and each said that their books had never been reviewed by the DEA.

    Now, I simply make sure to buy my allowed dosage every time I go grocery shopping to get ahead of my next crisis. With both my wife and son needing PE on occasion, it’s not easy to keep it in stock. Asinine law.

  6. #6 |  David | 

    Best be careful, Lou. According to drug warriors, having a condition that requires regular medication to feel better is a unacceptable weakness that no measure is too extreme to prevent.

  7. #7 |  Nando | 

    Uh, it’s not illegal to sell you over the legal amount, only to buy it?

    Because I can’t find another explanation on how someone can buy more than the law allows you to buy and then get convicted for it AFTER the pharmacist, who should’ve known the law, sold it to him!

  8. #8 |  Cold Medicine Control, Inc. | 

    It’s about time they closed the over-the-counter medications loophole.

    Now if we can just get that five-day waiting period passed…

  9. #9 |  jet | 

    I had the extreme misfortune shortly after this law was passed to have the entire family fall prey to a cold virus at the same time. At the time, they didn’t sell those handy combo packs of Dayquil/Nyquil, so I needed one of each and a suitable remedy for my then 4 yo son. Any person with half a brain (which means damn few members of Congress) could look at these purchases, along with the gallon of orange juice I hefted onto the counter, and see immediately what the deal was.

    And, in fact, the kind lady at the checkout said “I’m not supposed to do this, but…Do you have the cash to pay for one of these seperately so you don’t have to make an extra trip somewhere?” Maybe we should be electing more Walgreen’s clerks to Congress and fewer lawyers!

  10. #10 |  David | 

    Uh, it’s not illegal to sell you over the legal amount, only to buy it?

    Because I can’t find another explanation on how someone can buy more than the law allows you to buy and then get convicted for it AFTER the pharmacist, who should’ve known the law, sold it to him!

    I don’t think that one pharmacy will sell you over the allowed amount. So what person has to do is to go to say, CVS, then Rite Aid, then Target, then Walgreens until he has enough to be charged.

  11. #11 |  Josh | 

    Iowa passed the same kind of law before the federal law hit the books, and my expereince was similar to Radley’s, as I’m cruising around on a Sunday afternoon trying to find some medicine for my at-the-time 3-yr old daughter’s cold, with no success since the only medicine available was behind the counter, with the pharmacies being closed.

    But maybe it’s for the best, as I’m sure I would’ve been tempted to deprive my child some needed medicine in order to cook up some meth with her Equate-brand Cold & Cough.

  12. #12 |  Kieffer | 

    I had a similar experience just last week. I went to Walgreen’s to pick up Sudafed and other items for my pregnant wife (apparently pregnancy does all sorts of awful things to one’s immune system) . After locating the correct card, I approached the pharmacy counter. The clerk asked me if I’d finished my shopping and suggested that I return to check out once I had everything I needed. I gathered the remaining items on my list and returned to the pharmacy.

    I provided the required gov’t issued ID card and waited for the clerk to enter my information. And waited. And waited. I’m not sure what the technical issue was, but it took a solid 8 minutes to enter my information. All the while, I could hear frustrated sighs of the people unfortunate enough to be behind me in line.

    Once I signed the affirmation promising not to buy too much cold medicine, or use it to make meth, and finished my purchase, I turned to the line of 6 people behind me and said, “Sorry about that folks, my caught a cold.” One old man said, “Wait, that was all just for cold medicine?”

    Two people laughed. Which makes me think that maybe we still have a chance.

  13. #13 |  dmoynihan | 

    I confess, my way of dealing with this crackdown has been to dramatically increase my upper-body workouts, so I don’t have trouble breathing in bad weather or post-drinking (seriously).

    But I’ve noticed, at a gas station near me which at times has too-good-for-Maryland deals on cigarettes, they’ll sell single packs of Pseudo-Ephedrine meds, maybe a pack of four pills or something. You have to fill in a log book, but they do let you do it.

    It’s not Nyquil, it’s something else.

  14. #14 |  anonymous | 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_Methamphetamine_Epidemic_Act_of_2005

    In September 2006, Tim Naveau was arrested and charged with a Class-B misdemeanor for purchasing Claritin D.[2]

    Naveau takes one tablet of Claritin D each day to combat allergies, and his teenage son is also an allergy sufferer. Minors are not permitted to purchase pseudoephedrine under the law. Naveau had gone over the legal limit for pseudoephedrine when he purchased extra Claritin D to give to his son before he attended church camp.

  15. #15 |  perlhaqr | 

    And all this after they had already banned the more effective phenylpropanalomine in favor of psuedoephedrine. (Which came about after they banned straight ephedrine.)

  16. #16 |  Danno49 | 

    Let me chime in here on this as a frustrated consumer and parent. I have 5 children (spare me the lectures, I know how the whole thing works!) and when one of them gets a cold, you sure as shitfire know most of them, if not all, are going to get it. Children’s Motrin Cold is a godsend for parents who don’t want to get up in the middle of the night to dose their sick kids just so they can breathe while they sleep. Children’s Tylenol Cold products do work just not as long. So when I go to the pharmacy counter and complete the requisite anal probe, I purchase 2 bottles. I would purchase 3 but they won’t allow me to. I then go elsewhere the next day and buy a few more. This is fucking bullshit. The fact is this is yet another case of the majority being punished for the acts of the minority. As far as them coming after me, it’s never happened and I have done this quite a few times since this obtuse law went into effect. My guess is that it takes more than 4 bottles to extract enough pseudoephedrine to do anything worthwhile or they would have been all over me. Probably armed to the teeth in the middle of the night, killing my daughter’s pet parakeet in the process as we don’t own a dog. That little bird can peck your eyes out on command. We trained it that way.

    I am sick and tired of the citizenry being treated like criminals when we have done nothing wrong. Something, somewhere, somehow and at some fucking time (hopefully not too far in the future) has got to give. We are living in a police state and the sad thing is most of us do not even realize it because they chipped away at us, little by little. What will happen when and if people finally awaken to where we are? Where will we be? Asking for permission from our doctor’s to indulge a little and go ahead and buy that Whopper? How much will the permit be? Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

    I weep for what this country could be and probably never will without massive bloodshed.

  17. #17 |  Mafoo | 

    Yeah, I was in upstate New York last week and developed a nasty cold. I went to CVS and tried to buy some Sudafed. I got carded, which shocked me, but I gave them my ID. Thing is, it was a California ID. No good. I wasn’t allowed to alleviate my cold because I’m a dreaded outsider.

  18. #18 |  Tim C | 

    Here in CA I don’t think you can even go to different store/pay cash, etc…they ask for DL and check in a computer (I presume a central database) to see if it’s time for you to be able to buy yet or not. Thus, I’m sure any package that was sold without a database entry for it would come under scrutiny…anyone know particulars here?

    Anyway, good thing that helping out Mexican meth cartels is more important than health and happiness of our citizens though!

  19. #19 |  David | 

    I think CT has a similar system. There used to be a paper log book(which i assume was easily fooled), but now they scan the back of your license. I’m not sure if the database is for all stores in the sate or just within each chain. Either way, it’s a sad state of affairs.

  20. #20 |  FWB | 

    Once again, Congress has NO authority to regulate things in commerce. THIS IS A LIE!!! Congress was granted authority to regulate commerce “among” the States. The word among was used because between is incorrect grammar. There are more than two states involved. What Congress has authority to do is to keep states from screwing with each other, that is to regulate any conflicts that may arise “among” the states with respect to Congress. AND Congress was not granted the power to regulate commerce “among” the People. Foreign nations – yes. Indian tribes – yes. States – yes. People – no, conspicuously absent. For further evidence see Amendment 18, which provides explicit evidence that Congress holds no authority to regulate things, amendments were/are necessary to do so. But today, the People have been educated to believe that Congress can regulate wahtever they want (public schooling lies) and the Courts have the authority to interpret the Constitution (more lies). The subordinate can never define the superior.

    Every totalitarian regime begins with small chips. We are on the way to our very own.

  21. #21 |  Rationalitate | 

    This story is actually a lot more disturbing than you and the other commenters make it out to be: the Combat Meth Epidemic Act that started this whole thing was preceded by extensive lobbying on behalf of Boehringer-Ingelheim, a German company that produces a lot of phenylephrine. Pseudoephedrine, on the other hand, is a simpler, patent-free drug produced in factories in India and other places without much legislative clout. After the law, Boehringer-Ingelheim boasted that “the phenylephrine business continued growing at a high level.” Hm. I wonder why!

  22. #22 |  Cat | 

    I lived in a city of 150,000 when this law passed.

    Politicos and authorities were so busy patting themselves on the back over their ingenious solution to the meth problem- they missed the obvious.

    Limiting access to ingredients to cook meth did indeed decrease meth production and availability.

    It did NOT decrease or cure addiction.

    Did they really think users would just quit using because meth was harder to find? Hello?!!!! Addicts don’t quit – they just switch to a new/more easily attainable drug.

    In a city which had thus far remained all but untouched by heroin – all I could think was “if you dumb asses thought meth was bad…..you’re going to have a rude awakening….”

    It was inevitable. Took longer than I expected, but last week, local news reported 2 arrests for – you guessed it – heroin.

  23. #23 |  Cat | 

    obtainable (not attainable)

    sorry.

  24. #24 |  Fr. Spike | 

    My wife has a condition where she tends to get severe ear infections in a matter of hours if she gets a cold. Pseudoephedrine is the only sure-fire fix we know of. So far, laws like this have caused 2 late-night ruptured eardrums. We’ve learned to keep a box or so around, but this situation shouldn’t have even come up.

    I’m going to give tme about a decade to perfect these laws before it becomes functionally impossible to buy pseudoephedrine. We’ll end up buying cheap and readily available components like crystal meth and build clandestine labs to transform them into cold medicine.

  25. #25 |  Simon J. | 

    Honestly. They think we’re a nation of damned children.

    So long as the majority of people continue to behave like children (and spoiled ones, at that), there will always be politicians willing to play the role of nanny.

  26. #26 |  David Borden | 

    This one hits home. Not that I use Sudafed very often, but that’s just a personal choice. I could, and when I do resort to it I really can use it.

    I did buy some a few months back, and I half considered requesting a hundred boxes, just to see what would happen, but I chickened out. I did have to give them my name and so forth, so I guess if I wasn’t on a list before from activism, I probably am now from buying one box of Sudafed in a year’s time.

  27. #27 |  I Want Benedryl Back | Dad-o-Matic | 

    […] this post about how it’s a Federal offense to buy too much cold medicine has me bummed out. You see, […]

  28. #28 |  Ari Adler | 

    This started in Michigan a few years back and it’s been a real pain because when I want the real Sudafed I have to visit the pharmacy counter, which has very unfriendly service hours at every store around here in Lansing, Michigan. :(

    Once again, government has decided to punish the entire class because a couple of students misbehaved. Will the tyranny of a fourth-grade teacher never end? :)

  29. #29 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Selling phenylephrine as a decongestant is no more and no less than a scam, and someone needs to sue on that basis.

    (phenylephrine is useful, just not as a decongestant)

    Because they want a single formulation it’s annoyingly hard to find a pseudoephedrine-containing decongestant in tablet form. It’s allways been over-the-counter (i.e. ask for it) rather than on the shop floor, which is afaik more than acceptable.

    You can get the nasal sprays at least, but if you’re bad then there’s the issue of rebound congestion after a few days…

  30. #30 |  Virtual Memories » Unrequired Reading: Oct. 3, 2008 | 

    […] No decongestant for you! A man has been convicted of a felony for having sniffles. […]

  31. #31 |  freethinker2008 | 

    Quote:

    “I’m going to give tme about a decade to perfect these laws before it becomes functionally impossible to buy pseudoephedrine. We’ll end up buying cheap and readily available components like crystal meth and build clandestine labs to transform them into cold medicine.”

    Bravo, Fr. Spike, you took the thought right out of my head!

  32. #32 |  Amandline | 

    As a chronic sinus sufferer I had to hit three stores in a week once too (on Doctor’s orders I was supposed to be taking extra doses). I asked the pharmacists though, and each said that their books had never been reviewed by the DEA.

    Now, I simply make sure to buy my allowed dosage every time I go grocery shopping to get ahead of my next crisis. With both my wife and son needing PE on occasion, it’s not easy to keep it in stock. Asinine law.

    I too am on doctor’s orders and if I need to stock up to travel or try to have extra in the house in case I get sick and can’t get to the store, I am in trouble. I cannot put together a complete evacution kit as suggested by the Redcross and the government itself and stocking up to travel on extended trips especially to the wilderness or to third world nations is impossible, especially if the trip in mid month. I have to plan months in advance and skip doses and suffer the effects of breathing at lower capacity due to more post nasal drip building up, just to get the timing and dosages correct for my vacation. Since, when are we not free to come and go as we please in this nation?

  33. #33 |  Amandline | 

    “Yeah, I was in upstate New York last week and developed a nasty cold. I went to CVS and tried to buy some Sudafed. I got carded, which shocked me, but I gave them my ID. Thing is, it was a California ID. No good. I wasn’t allowed to alleviate my cold because I’m a dreaded outsider.”

    The solution is simpple. Simply stock up on your needed sudafedrine supplies before you leave your home state. Oh wait, if you have to take a daily does and are already at the legal, limit you cannot stock up, so you will have to wait and buy it at your point of desination out of state, but oh wait, it is an out of state license, so you can’t. Does anyone else feel like they have fallen down the rabbit hole?

  34. #34 |  Amandline | 

    “My wife has a condition where she tends to get severe ear infections in a matter of hours if she gets a cold. Pseudoephedrine is the only sure-fire fix we know of. So far, laws like this have caused 2 late-night ruptured eardrums. We’ve learned to keep a box or so around, but this situation shouldn’t have even come up.”

    No it should not have. I hope you have been keeping documentation of the medical harm, these laws have caused your wife. You seriously need to think about filing a law suit against the government for endanging in your wilfe health and life.

    This law is not merely inconveniancing law abiding American citizens it is compramising their freedom to travel from state to state and out of the nation and most importantly it is actually endangering people health and life.

    None of which is acceptable for a nation, which claims to be the leader of the free world.

    I do not trust the goverment to fix the healthcare crisis, because they cannot even handle medicne for the common cold with out restricting freedoms and additionally, endangering people’s health and life. If they can’t handle a head cold, how can I trust them with a triple by pass?

  35. #35 |  geoatl | 

    I have been fighting this law for quit a while. I have been taking claritin and sudaphedrin for a very, very long time. I was so pissed when this went into effect. I did find out a senator from california and south dakota introduced the bill. They are long gone of course.
    I left the country for a year and tried to buy a large supply. It was a night mare. I am not sure if there is a warrant out for me yet. I came back a few months ago and no blue uniform guys were at my door. So I guess I am safe. Every one in my family has allergy problems. This is a crime to humanity when we are treated like criminals.
    I tried to call law enforcement and tell them I was a long time patient of allergies. They did not care. Its a federal law. I get that answer all the time. Ahhh. What does the 10 Ammendment say?

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