Hoosier Grandmother Arrested for Purchasing Cold Medication

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Last March, Sally Harpold, an Indiana grandmother of triplets, bought two boxes of cold medication in less than a week. Together, the two boxes contained 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine, putting her in violation of the state’s methamphetamine-fighting law, which forbids the purchase of more than three grams by one person in a seven-day period.

Police came to Harpold’s home, arrested and handcuffed her, and booked her in a Vermillion County jail. No one believes Harpold was making meth or aiding anyone who was. But local authorities aren’t apologizing for her arrest.

“I don’t want to go there again,” [Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina] Alexander told the Tribune-Star, recalling how the manufacture and abuse of methamphetamine ravaged the tiny county and its families.

While the law was written with the intent of stopping people from purchasing large quantities of drugs to make methamphetamine, the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.

“The law does not make this distinction,” Alexander said…

Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.

“I’m simply enforcing the law as it was written,” Alexander said…

It is up to customers to pay attention to their purchase amounts, and to check medication labels, Alexander said.

“If you take these products, you ought to know what’s in them,” she said.

Harpold’s photo was put on the front page of the local paper as part of an article about the arrest of 17 people in a “drug sweep.” Alexander has generously allowed Harpold to enter a deferral program. If she commits no crimes in the next 30 days, her arrest will be wiped from her record. She’ll still have to pay court costs and attorney fees.

I’ll leave it to Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel to (unintentionally) put an exclamation point on the absurdity.

“Sometimes mistakes happen,” Marvel said. “It’s unfortunate. But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect.

“I feel for her, but if she could go to one of the area hospitals and see a baby born to a meth-addicted mother …”

Because clearly the best way to prevent meth-addicted babies is to arrest women who buy cold medication for their grandchildren.

(Via William Grigg)

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109 Responses to “Hoosier Grandmother Arrested for Purchasing Cold Medication”

  1. #1 |  John S. | 

    “Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.”

    In theory, the sentiment makes sense, but in reality, how can anyone reasonably be expected to keep track of every local, state & federal statute that goes into effect? Especially when many (if not most) are at least a dozen pages long. Is every individual supposed to have their own private attorney to advise them on every action they take on every day? We already need to pay at least once a year just to make sure we are in compliance with tax law – and if the software (or accountant) that you paid for, unless you are appointed Secretary of the Treasury, you are on the hook for thousands in fines and/or jailtime.

    With respect to this particular law (leaving debates on drug legalization aside), how this sort of law prevents those with intent to distribute from aquiring meth ingredients is beyond me. Just as ridiculous as “straw purchase” & one handgun a month laws (like my home state the People’s Republic of New Jersey recently passed), this does nothing to address drug addiction…

  2. #2 |  Stephen | 

    Prosecutor Nina Alexander, you are a totally inhuman bitch!

    Sheriff Jon Marvel is a moron.

    The people who created this absurd law are even worse. They write laws that let inhuman morons mess with regular people and say that they are following the law.

    I’m fine with repealing everything except the constitution and starting over.

  3. #3 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Paging seeker6709, please pick up the idiot phone. seeker6709 please explain this stupid law and who exactly the State is speaking for here.

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I think most of the laws targeting actual criminals were enacted before the country passed into the 19th century. Most of the laws since then target non-criminals. Any day now the public is going to rebel and tell the government it won’t take it anymore.

  5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

    And of course, the problem with brain dead morons who write these ignorant laws that turn everyone into criminals is that they won’t stop as long as the country isn’t perfect. You know, there’s always room for improvement.

  6. #6 |  Aunty Nanny | 

    Steve and Dave, I’ll go one further; for every law proposed and passed, one existing law has to be recinded. That should weed out a tonne of stupidity quickly.

  7. #7 |  Aresen | 

    I would like to see the prosecutor and sherrif explain this to their own grandmothers. Their grandmothers would probably swat them with their handbags.

  8. #8 |  Aunty Nanny | 

    Oh yeah, and in reference to the above story, I’ll toss in the ‘trite’ but truisim; zero tolerance=zero common sense + misguided but well meaning stupidity.

  9. #9 |  Aresen | 

    #5 | Aunty Nanny | September 28th, 2009 at 12:24 pm
    Steve and Dave, I’ll go one further; for every law proposed and passed, one existing law has to be recinded. That should weed out a tonne of stupidity quickly.

    Actually, I’d bet we would have a Gresham’s law of legislation: The only laws left would be the bad ones.

    (For the children, of course.)

  10. #10 |  Nando | 

    It’s hard not to see where this is going, if we take it to it’s logical conclusion.

    Politicians “need” to appear to be tough on crime, so they pass more and more laws to “show” their constituents that they will not let “crime” worsen under their watch. These laws are then hastily written, and past even quicker, with no argument against them because other politicians don’t want to appear to be “soft” on crime (or allow their opponents to say so when they run for reelection). These poorly written laws, in and of themselves, are harmless. The problem is that police and prosecutors are evaluated, promoted, and given raises due, in large part (if not entirely), to the amount of “criminals” they arrest and/or prosecute. Therefore, where a community-minded officer/prosecutor/DA with an ounce of common sense would not arrest/prosecute little old ladies or underage children for breaking some technicality in some hastily-passed, poorly-written law, these “career-minded” individuals go ahead with the arrests and prosecutions to further pad their stats and, thus, look like they are doing their job (which they are not, since their job is to protect the people from injustice). The logical conclusion to this is that, eventually, we will all be arrested and prosecuted under the guise of justice for some law that should’ve never existed to begin with.

    I guess we are all soon to be criminals. When intelligence is outlawed, only outlaws will be intelligent!

  11. #11 |  Handcuffed Grandmothers Should Just Shut Up and Think of the Children | Popehat | 

    [...] Radley Balko picks up on an airhorn issue being used against Indiana grandmother Sally Harpold: “I feel for her, but if she could go to one of the area hospitals and see a baby born to a meth-addicted mother …” [...]

  12. #12 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    So, playing this out, she’s gonna have to go on probation
    and risk 2-3 weeks in the joint if she flubs on
    some technicality. Further evidence that
    dimwitted tubbies wanna put the whole county on probation
    or jail them. File under: Revenge of the nerds.

  13. #13 |  Roho | 

    “Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.”

    Every time I see some cop or prosecutor say this, I grit another layer off my teeth. Once, just once, I’d love to see them use it against a cop after an invalid arrest. Thus far, I’ve been disappointed at every turn.

  14. #14 |  Kristen | 

    Nothing will change – the criminal “justice” machine will just keep on rolling – until a more significant group of those who blindly support the police (you know, the “they have a tough job” crowd) have this shit happen to them. It simply doesn’t mean anything when it’s “the other guy”. There is no capacity to extrapolate that it if happened to the dude acorss town, it can also happen to you. It’s astounding, really.

  15. #15 |  Tim C | 

    As noted by several above, the “ignorance of the law” thing is nauseating; I’ve seen various statistics/articles but the essence is everyone in the country breaks several laws a day (hour?) just living here.

    Insofar as the cold medicine purchasing goes – ok, if we’re trying to protect us from ourselves (or our meth-making neighbors), how come it was possible for this woman to so endanger herself? I.e, I’m pretty sure here in CA I’ve actually been blocked from a purchase at the store; the system tracks your ID vs. purchases and is a central database that merchants must hook into – this is off the cuff/AFAIK however. Annoying for me, but at least it keeps me out of legal trouble, right (though I imagine too many such attempts and they start watching)?

    Also, I believe Radley reported it here, but among other issues with these stupid laws (like helping Mexican drug cartels strengthen) are the new, highly toxic/dangerous “shake and bake” methods, which are strewing the countryside with contaminated 2-liter bottles and the like.

  16. #16 |  solinox | 

    I’ve been worried about this exact same thing happening to me or my family ever since these idiotic “meth control” laws were enacted. I have a large family of 8. What the hell am I supposed to do if my entire family comes down with a cold? It’s now illegal to medicate my own family?

    Every time I buy Sudafed now, I write “STOP TRACKING ME” in the signature block. Bastards.

  17. #17 |  Matt I. | 

    I just want to point out that today, with databases like the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), no arrest can ever really be ‘expunged from the record’ or ‘sealed’.

    Once you are arrested anyone will always be able to see it.

  18. #18 |  perlhaqr | 

    “Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.”

    I want this evil cunt charged with every law she breaks. And given how many laws there are, there’s no possibility she’s not breaking any laws.

  19. #19 |  Bad Medicine | 

    So… it’s a controlled substance, but it’s not really controlled, just prosecuted after the fact… Let’s call it a Jump-through-our-silly-hoops-and-get-others-to-buy-it-for-you-or-get-arrested substance…

  20. #20 |  Michael | 

    I was wondering why 2 boxes would get someone busted. It turns out that Meth cooks have adapted the chemistry to cook batches based a single box of cold medicine. So for the greater good, we need to ban the following:

    Alcohol – Gasoline additives/Rubbing Alcohol
    Ether (starting fluid)
    Benzene
    Paint thinner
    Freon
    Acetone
    Chloroform
    Camp stove fuel
    Anhydrous ammonia
    White gasoline
    Pheynl-2-Propane
    Phenylacetone
    Phenylpropanolamine
    Rock, table or Epsom salt
    Red Phosphorous
    Toluene (found in brake cleaner)
    Red Devil Lye
    Drain cleaner
    Muraitic acid
    Battery acid
    Lithium from batteries
    Sodium metal
    Ephedrine
    Cold tablets
    Diet aids
    Iodine
    Bronchodialators
    Energy boosters
    Iodine crystals

  21. #21 |  SJE | 

    The idiots who wrote and enforced the law probably never considered that a family with triplets might use more than, say, a single person. I think that the granny should go to court, not apologise, and give them all a good stern talking to. The media will be all over it, making the politicians look like the asses they are.

  22. #22 |  MichaelK42 | 

    Well, it’s not like Mark Souder was the only idiot we had to contribute to the War on (some) Drugs from here.

  23. #23 |  MDGuy | 

    Crack is simply powdered cocaine combined with a little baking soda and cooked up on a kitchen stove or in a microwave. Any bets on how soon baking soda purchases will be monitored/prohibited? What about for stoves and microwaves?

  24. #24 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “I was wondering why 2 boxes would get someone busted. It turns out that Meth cooks have adapted the chemistry to cook batches based a single box of cold medicine. So for the greater good, we need to ban the followingBenzene
    Paint thinner
    Freon
    Acetone ”

    Screw it, the Prohibition of Molecules is not gonna do it.
    We need to go elemental.
    Nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and
    oxygen.
    They need to be outlawed if we really want to win this War on Drugs!!

  25. #25 |  Aresen | 

    @ Yizmo Gizmo | September 28th, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I wouldn’t refer to it as “Revenge of the Nerds”.

    I think it comes under “Revenge of the Nannies.”

  26. #26 |  Sithmonkey | 

    D.A. Alexander’s response:

    http://www.tribstar.com/archivesearch/local_story_253170047.html

  27. #27 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

    It’s moments like this that make me proud ashamed to live in Indiana.

  28. #28 |  Aresen | 

    Screw it, the Prohibition of Molecules is not gonna do it.
    We need to go elemental.
    Nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and
    oxygen.
    They need to be outlawed if we really want to win this War on Drugs!!

    Just shows how much you are soft on crime. All they need is some quarks and a particle accelerator. Ban the Higgs Boson!

  29. #29 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “I’m simply enforcing the law as it was written,” Alexander said…

    Why is it that Tom Hanks gets it right in “Green Mile” and basically says “Fuck my job. I’m also a human.” but ass-hat Alexander can’t figure this one out.

    Irony, of course, will be how he bends the law to let off a cop because “It is clear there is no intent here…just an honest mistake.”

  30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #13 Roho

    “Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.”

    Every time I see some cop or prosecutor say this, I grit another layer off my teeth.

    Me too. If the assholes who pass the laws don’t read the laws, it seems a bit disingenuous to demand that we do.

  31. #31 |  Mattocracy | 

    Tough on crime means being stupid on crime.

    This Sheriff probably knows what he said was retarted, but he has to justify the ASSinine behavior of the justice system some how. He probably gave the best reasoning he could have dispite its retartedness. I hope the family of the sheriff and DA tell them how ashamed they are of their behavior.

  32. #32 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #31 Mattocracy

    This Sheriff probably knows what he said was retarted, but…

    …but he probably thinks the rest of us are retardeder.

  33. #33 |  fwb | 

    Too bad it’s not constitutional for the fed to ban ANYTHING. Reread 18th amdmt and then explain why that amendment was necessary to ban booze IF the commerce clause already covered it.

    And unless the people give the state similar authority through the state constitution, the state can’t legally ban it either.

    Just another govt lie.

    Tiocfaidh ar la!

  34. #34 |  Marty | 

    hold grandma under water for 5 minutes- if she lives, she’s innocent. if she dies, there’s one less drug pusher…

  35. #35 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #2 | Stephen — “I’m fine with repealing everything except the constitution and starting over.”

    Wait for it … wait …

    “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.” — Lysander Spooner

  36. #36 |  J sub D | 

    Steve and Dave, I’ll go one further; for every law proposed and passed, one existing law has to be recinded. That should weed out a tonne of stupidity quickly

    Make that two existing laws have to be repealed.

  37. #37 |  D.C. Russell | 

    I wish the news report had identified the pharmacy and the legislators who sponsored the law.

    How can people hold legislators accountable for their bad laws with unexpected consequences if the press refuses to identify them?

    And why is the press protecting the pharmacy? I certainly wouldn’t want to do business with a pharmacy that refuses to protect the medical confidentiality of its customers.

  38. #38 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Indiana? You gotta be shitting me. I live 2000 miles from Indiana.

    I hereby refuse to care about anything that happens more than 25 miles from where I live.

    I’m getting too old for this shit, and reading The Agitator does nothing but take years off my life.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, first they came for the Communists … whatfuckingever. By the time they come for me, I’ll be done giving a shit and what little pleasure there is left in this world will be long gone. Fuck it all.

  39. #39 |  Cappy | 

    “Sometimes mistakes happen,” Marvel said.

    Mr. Marvel, I’m sure when your deputies make a mistake you hold them just as accountable. /sarcasm

    JURY NULLIFICATION!

  40. #40 |  Zargon | 

    #4
    I think most of the laws targeting actual criminals were enacted before the country passed into the 19th century.

    Which is unsurprising, given that actual crime is easy to define honestly: it’s all just various applications of force & fraud not in self-defense.

    It’s only when you try and define criminal law dishonestly, by making some innocent activities criminal, and by authorizing some groups to perform criminal actions legitimately, that things get tricky.

  41. #41 |  Cappy | 

    Shouldn’t the store owner be arrested for knowingly selling rationed antihistamines to a person? Using their logic, that would make the store owner, the clerk and the bagger, dealers.

  42. #42 |  David | 

    Shouldn’t the store owner be arrested for knowingly selling rationed antihistamines to a person? Using their logic, that would make the store owner, the clerk and the bagger, dealers.

    Don’t be surprised if some sting operation does just that(like the convenience store clerks arrested for selling ammonia and lighter fluid as the undercover cops spouted drug jargon about doing a “cookup”). All those people are non-cops/not part of the justice system, therefore, fair game.

  43. #43 |  Whim | 

    Roho:

    The U.S. SUCO has ruled that police do NOT need to know the law when they arrest someone. Just a suspicion that a law has been broken.

    However, in the parallel universe that all the rest of us live in…..:

    “Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse”, Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander said……………..

  44. #44 |  Ben | 

    You know, articles like this make me wish I was stupid. Like “Oh, God, I feel bad for that guy… it must suck to be that dumb” stupid. You might ask why.

    Well, because then I wouldn’t be so depressed that there’s nothing I can do, too few people who care and no one person to kill to fix it.

  45. #45 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    She’ll still have to pay court costs and attorney fees.

    And there, ladies and gentlemen is the true reason behind the bogus arrest.

    They go after the low-hanging fruit every time because, you know it’s a lot easier than real police work. Much safer too.

  46. #46 |  JS | 

    Oh that response in the Terre Haute News editorial Sithmonkey linked is hilarious.

    “I am sure that there are a myriad of reasons why people violate the law, but a person’s reason or motive is seldom an element of a crime.”

  47. #47 |  Robotech_Master | 

    “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” is no excuse.

    Do you know where the phrase “ignorance of the law is no excuse” comes from?

    It comes from ancient Rome, where the law code was simple and short enough that it was publicly posted everywhere and every citizen was expected to read it.

    Thus, literally, “ignorance of the law was no excuse” because every citizen had the opportunity to familiarize himself with every single word of it.

    But to try to claim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” in a modern society where even lawyers and judges don’t know all of the laws by heart is ridiculous. I’m sure we all break at least one law per day whether we know it or not.

  48. #48 |  Shaun | 

    Is Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel an elected official? Perhaps this is a problem whose solution is awaiting him at the ballot box.

  49. #49 |  “Get your shot… or get on the bus…” Medical martial law on the horizon? « The Bovine | 

    [...] And meanwhile, the “war on drugs” claims another victim of “collateral damage”, an Indiana grandmother arrested for buying two boxes of cold medicine in less than a week for her trip… [...]

  50. #50 |  BamBam | 

    Law = ink on paper

    Wipe your ass with the “law”. Just because someone decrees someone or an idea or an abstract notion as requiring obedience doesn’t make it so.

  51. #51 |  Kat | 

    Re: “I feel for her, but if she could go to one of the area hospitals and see a baby born to a meth-addicted mother …”

    Does this person (or anyone enforcing the law) realize that pseudo-ephedrine (a.k.a. Sudafed) is NOT meth???

    I’d like to also point out that Sudafed is one of the ONLY OTC drugs (Tylenol being the other) that pregnant women are allowed to take. Stop and think about that fact for awhile.

    Heaven forbid that a grandmother should try to help out her son or daughter by going to the pharmacy to buy cold meds for her grandkids.

  52. #52 |  Robert | 

    [blockquote]The idiots who wrote and enforced the law probably never considered that a family with triplets might use more than, say, a single person. I think that the granny should go to court, not apologise, and give them all a good stern talking to. The media will be all over it, making the politicians look like the asses they are.[/blockquote]

    You must not read this site much. If granny stands up for herself, chances are she’ll end up in prison. I’m actually quite surprised they didn’t rough her up and charge her with “resisting arrest”.

  53. #53 |  DNA | 

    Indiana is apparently right smack dab in the middle of the America’s ass crack.

  54. #54 |  MarkF | 

    This grandmother got off easy.

    She is lucky these morons didn’t send over the swat team and break down her front door at 2:00 AM

    Hey Sheriff Jon Marvel – God gave you a brain – how about you start using it???

  55. #55 |  Joe M. | 

    Cynical in CA makes some good points about the inability of the Constitution to stop such abuses. When those in power can corrupt language however they choose and thus wrongly seize control through the commerce clause or eminent domain clause, it’s too late. If the supreme court can blatantly pervert the meaning of the phrase “public use,” then all hope is long lost.

    Jefferson had it right–at some point another revolution will be necessary. (Well, that point has long past, but those in power have also done a good job of generating apathy–Cynical in CA is a good example.) Unfortunately, those of you who might actually care are too brainwashed, and you believe voting for your party (Democrats, Republicans, and other brainwashed collectives) is the solution. The real solution is to dismantle the whole nightmare.

    But no, too much blind faith, and too many suckers out there.

    Every time you vote to restrict something, think about what you’re doing. A vote basically represents your attempt to force your moral viewpoint on others. “I think we should prevent meth addiction. Let’s restrict purchase of Sudafed.” Well, we see how that works out. Good intent + violence of voting = bad outcome.

    “I think we should ban guns on college campuses.” ==> preventable deaths of innocents

    “I think we should elect Republicans because they are strong on national defense.” ==> endless war in Iraq and murder of innocents

    “I think we should elect Democrats because they will end the war in Iraq.” ==> endless war in Afghanistan and murder of innocents

    “I think we should ban smoking in bars” ==> loss of livelihood for business owners

    “I think we should vote for programs like cash for clunkers” ==> I know two people who lost their jobs in auto maintenance because of cash for clunkers, and plenty of other businesses that are hurting because of this selective theft/reapportionment of money

    “I think we should have free national health care” ==> violates the US Constitution, ends free choice, and forces me to pay for someone else’s poor choices in life

    “I think we should ban gay marriages” ==> why anyone should care who marries who is baffling. There should be no government involvement in marriage whatsoever.

    “I think we should force everyone to contribute to social security.” ==> How much has that money been thieved by Democrats and Republicans for their pet projects? My parents would have not died in near-poverty had they been able to invest in funds of their own choosing.

    Of course I’ve touched on many pet beliefs here. And fascinatingly, most of you will continue to believe you have the right to force your morals on the rest of us, picking and choosing from the above, to decide how the rest of us must live our lives.

    THAT is why we have complete idiots like Nina Alexander. Oh, and all of you too. Fuck you all for voting.

  56. #56 |  Mike T | 

    Because clearly the best way to prevent meth-addicted babies is to arrest women who buy cold medication for their grandchildren.

    Did you know that it’s like a voodoo doll? Every time an innocent person is harmed, a drug dealer secret screams in pain.

  57. #57 |  Indiana prosecutor says she’s duty bound to prosecute grandma who bought cold medicine | Newsblog | 

    [...] Because the best way to prevent meth-addicted babies is to arrest women who buy cold medication for … [...]

  58. #58 |  jppatter | 

    #47

    I’m sure we all break at least one law per day whether we know it or not.

    Only one? You must not get out of bed much.

  59. #59 |  enki | 

    So are you citizens of Indiana going to look up who wrote the law and vote against them in the next election or just bemoan your loss of liberties on a web page?

    Are you going to take action or just complain?

  60. #60 |  AMB | 

    This is why people who live in big cities are embarrassed by rural America. The flyover states are breeding grounds of stupidity.

  61. #61 |  rico567 | 

    I recall two quotes pertinent to this case:

    The laws keep up their credit, not by being just, but because
    they are laws; ’tis the mystic foundation of their authority; they
    have no other, and it well answers their purpose. They are often
    made by fools; still oftener by men who, out of hatred to equality,
    fail in equity; but always by men, vain and irresolute authors.

    – Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

    and

    The worse the society, the more law there will be. In hell there will be nothing but law, and due process will be meticulously observed.

    – Grant Gilmore

  62. #62 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Good God!!!! Just stick a fork in our ass and turn us over….WE ARE DONE!!!

    How do these people sleep at night?

  63. #63 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Not to make this too circular, but I too think Joe M. makes some excellent points, especially as regards voting.

    Once more into the breach with Lysander Spooner: “I believe that women have as much right to vote as men have, and that is no right at all.”

    The basic struggle in human affairs is not individual versus individual, as Statists (Hobbes) who cringe at the thought of anarchy would have one believe, it is society (or the collective) versus the individual.

    Modern law represents society (also known as the State). Justification for modern law is founded on being for the good of society (the State). All interpretations of law will represent the interests of society (the State) to the detriment of the individual.

    Cases like the unlucky grandmother perfectly exemplify this phenomenon. It matters not a whit to the State that she was swept up in the Seine net of drug laws, for the law is founded in principle (in the “mind” of the State) on the collective well-being of society.

    If anything, to the Statist mind, that the grandmother fell victim to the Draconian U.S. legal system is a strong indicator that the system is functioning perfectly.

    Objective normative value does not exist in matters that can be interpreted. All that matters is who is to do the interpreting. Good is defined as the means suited to the purpose (Delmar England). If the purpose is representing society at the expense of the individual, then to the Statist interpreter, the law is good because it fulfills this ideal.

    Add to this the fact that the State will defend its agents to the death, and the ring is closed. There is no defeating the State.

    Analyze almost every story of this nature published by The Agitator, and you will find this root conflict at the heart of the matter. I struggle in vain to find a solution other than abandoning society.

  64. #64 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    #59 AMB

    What flyover state are you from?

  65. #65 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    “I’m simply enforcing the law as it was written,” Alexander said…

    The classic Nuremberg defense: “I was only following orders.”

    Also, “The law is the law” translates exactly as “Befehl ist Befehl.”

  66. #66 |  Dr X | 

    So let me get this straight: no matter how many stuffed up children you have, you can only buy one box of Sudafed in a week? Are there similar limits on how many times per week cops and prosecutors are permitted to behave like stupid assholes?

  67. #67 |  MDGuy | 

    #59 | AMB | September 28th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    This is why people who live in big cities are embarrassed by rural America. The flyover states are breeding grounds of stupidity.

    …because we’ve never seen idiocy in drug policy in that bastion of reason, The Big City…

  68. #68 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I wonder how many of us here are just so disgusted by how common and extreme these stories like this are that it actually takes a forced effort to denounce the idiocy of it. This kind of idiocy defies response because a response only makes sense when it is directed at someone who has the intellectual capacity to appreciate a point of view.

    At what point do we just acknowledge that reasoning with government is about as effective as trying to…. Well, fuck it. I don’t think there is anything else as pointless.

    And no, this isn’t a mistake. A mistake is when you drip ketchup on your shirt This is conscious arrogant meanness against those these people see themselves as superior to. You know, nobodies who get speeding tickets and stuff.

  69. #69 |  Jay | 

    You people didn’t read Prosecutor Alexander’s letter to the editor of Terre Haute News. In that, she writes:

    I do agree with you that it would be helpful if there were very noticeable signs posted at each pharmacy which stated the restrictions imposed by the law. However, if you study the history of the many attempts by law enforcement to control the sale of ephedrine (especially the product Sudafed) you will find that the pharmaceutical companies fought long and hard against any restrictions on these products. It is very difficult to get an industry which is in the business of selling a product for a profit to do anything which adversely affects the number of sales.

    Wow. I can only shake my head in disbelief. So why isn’t she going after the pharmaceutical industry, if they are encouraging the sale of ephedrine? Doesn’t their attitude make them complicit in this “crime” ??
    She doesn’t have the spine to take on Big Pharma, so she picks on a poor grandma. What a spineless bastard. I hope she loses her job and ends up on the street some day.

  70. #70 |  Nathan Myers | 

    There’s just one thing to say to everybody involved: “Couldn’t you find an honest job?” It applies in so many circumstances.

  71. #71 |  Ariel | 

    Ok, I haven’t read any of the comments and am replying only to Mr. Balko’s post. This is what Thoreau so warned about, the adherence to the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit, the intent. He viewed it as the greatest of injustices.

    The prosecutor and the police are guilty of a greater crime than she.

  72. #72 |  John D. Cain | 

    I thought the actions of the Vermillion county Sheriff’s Department and DA were pretty stupid but frankly the law doesn’t seem to be the problem to me. The point is that law inforcement officials have a great deal of discretion about whether to arrest or prosecute. The powers that be in Vermillion county should have exercised that discretion. It doesn’t mean the that the itself is a bad or ineffective. It may be …but here someone should have used a little common sense. Hopefully, the court will have some.

    Frankly, most of the comments I’ve read here seem a little over the top and rather creepy.

  73. #73 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Strange John….I find the actions of the city a LOT over the top and VERY creepy.

  74. #74 |  Aresen | 

    #71 | Ariel | September 28th, 2009 at 9:26 pm
    …This is what Thoreau so warned about, the adherence to the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit, the intent. He viewed it as the greatest of injustices.

    The prosecutor and the police are guilty of a greater crime than she.

    You are missing a key point. It is the law itself which is inhumane, its spirit corrupt, in its intention to make criminal what should not be. Even if you deem the “war on drugs” right, why should the law make a presumption that a person’s innocent actions were for evil intent? Why should any person have to answer for her actions if she has done no harm?

    The law itself is evil here. The prosecutor and the sheriff are but its henchmen.

  75. #75 |  Ariel | 

    Aresen,

    I agree with you. The assumption that people carrying an “excess” of money, or buying too much of a product, is in and itself a crime is a perversion of good sense.

    I was only commenting on the law as it is, and what its intent was, which wasn’t to stop a Grandmother from making sure she had enough meds for the kids in her charge. The “henchmen” know the intent but choose to follow the letter, when they have the discretion not to arrest or prosecute. It is why I wrote theirs is the greater crime. Not that the buying of Sudafed should be a crime.

  76. #76 |  OB | 

    Alexander was elected in 2006 to a four-year term, so she is up for reelection next year. No one ran against her last time.

    Alexander should be shown the electoral door. But will anyone remember this example next year at election time? Will anyone spend any money to remind them? Will some legitimate organization take donations to help remind them? You know, so that I could do something other than just complain in the comment section of a blog.

  77. #77 |  DaveG | 

    Too bad they didn’t find granny with unlabeled narcotic cough syrup, then they really could have busted her ass

  78. #78 |  Antony | 

    well! there goes the constitutin in the toilet again!

    The constitution say explicitly:

    1) You can not make laws in such a way that it is difficult to understand and folow by an average person and

    2) You can not make a law or prosecute someone for breaking a law that he can not raisonably ajnd materially follow.

    This is the case. To these meth law people have to know the large list of compond that can be used to make meth and know the exact composition of any over he counter drugs they purchase. Basically they have to be a chemist!

    The state fell to take raisonable measure to let people know about pseudoephedrine and what products contain it.

    California is doing the right thing because medicine containing Pseudoephedrine can not be purchased over the counter. You have to ask the pharmacist although you don’t need a prescription. The pharmacist will tell you how much you can purchase legally.

    Apparently this Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina is a massive moron and should be disbared as not fitted to be in the law business!

    I wonder how she got her law degree! On line?

  79. #79 |  Antony | 

    Those who think that law is like mathematic (ie you do A you got B) should not be in the law business.

    Laws are no writen using mathematic with roc solid meaning but with English full of ambiguities and interpretations.

    This Nina Prosecutor should be fired for that as well as the stupid judge who went along with her. And they should pay the legal fee! This type of justice serve nobody and we don’t want it!

    We need them to go after the real bad guys instead. This is what we expect of them. What a pack lazy butt!

  80. #80 |  GreginOz | 

    Tsk, tsk, tsk. You are all missing the Libertarian Point (sic). This Grandmother is a FAILED drug dealer; she did not spread her purchases, fake I.D. nor get rid of the product. In our robust, blackmarket, drug-taking world ONLY the fittest survive. She is a salutory lesson to all my dealers, I’m sure her case study will be of keen interest to apprentice drug distributors, worldwide. They should have Swatted her, shot the dog & planted MORE drugs on the grandkids…pussies.

  81. #81 |  Indiana grandmother prosecuted for buying cold medicine | 

    [...] Haute Tribune-Star] Harpold’s story has been racing around blogs well known to our readers: Radley Balko/Reason “Hit and Run”, Ken at Popehat, Amy Alkon, Legal Blog Watch, BoingBoing. The Vermillion County, Indiana prosecutor [...]

  82. #82 |  pam | 

    maybe we should simply abolish congress. They have outlived their shelf life. There have been enough laws written and passed to last 10,000 collective lifetimes. They can be shuffled, reshuffled, rewritten, changed around and redefined for the next 10,000 years and still apply to anything and everything that everyone deems illegal (or bad for the children & grannies). Let’s start a petition.

  83. #83 |  Aunty Nanny | 

    All the more reason to ask the question posed by John Russell: “Mr. or Ms. Candidate I only have one question for you which of the thousands of unconstitutional and insulting laws and regulations do you plan to repeal if I give you my vote?”

  84. #84 |  The Random Yak | 

    If You Blog it, They Will Come…

    I knew the Yak of the Week Award was the most prestigious recognition of accomplishment awarded on My Side of the Mountain.  I didn’t know its prestige had spread so far, however, or that so many people would show their appreciation of its retur…

  85. #85 |  Amber Smith | 

    Look at the overwhelming response this has created! And thank goodness. I am sure this grandmother has paid her taxes and paid her dues to our country. When its time to recieve her Social Security, that she has paid into her whole life, and it now doesn’t exist? Who gets arrested for that? Who gets publicly humiliated for that? Arresting her, was again a big waste of our tax dollars! And the other thing is, everyone has a choice to do drugs or not. This judge seems to protecting pathetic meth addicts than anyone else. Once again the weaklings of society get more help than the hardworking respondsible people.

  86. #86 |  Mokkie | 

    Here is a web site that everyone SHOULD know about.
    http://fija.org/
    It is time to hold Judges Prosecutors AND All LAW ENFORCEMENT accountable for bad laws. IT is a crime to arrest this grandmother for this crime.

  87. #87 |  PW | 

    Pseudoephedrine is one of the only allergy medications that actually works. And it works by being taken on a daily basis to outlast the hayfever season, which can go on for weeks or even months. If you miss a dose the sneezing comes on in full force and you have to start a new pseudoephedrine cycle just to get things back under control.

    There is nothing more annoying in hayfever season than having to stop by the pharmacy every single week (and only during specified hours when their counter is open) for months on end just because our government won’t let them sell you more than about 6 pills worth at a time. And now we’re told that you can’t buy it too frequently. It’s a no win situation that basically means you have to visit the pharmacy once a week at the exact same day and time for months on end. Miss the day and you’re out of pills, screwing up the dosage. Go too early and you’re a meth dealer in the eyes of the cops.

    Thank God for Canada.

  88. #88 |  I Still Don’t Get It » Indiana Grandmother Arrested for Purchasing Cold Medication | 

    [...] read the rest at The Agitator and be careful you don’t hurt yourself while shaking your head. Tags: grandmother arrested [...]

  89. #89 |  albatross | 

    Probably the cops figured out they were doing something silly almost immediately. But the sheriff still had to come up with some face-saving thing to say about it. You don’t improve your re-election prospects by admitting that your deputies just did something stunningly dumb and pointless.

  90. #90 |  The Rule Of Law Over The Rule Of Reason | PHP Hosts | 

    [...] directly a tech/business related story, Jonny sent in this rather disturbing story of a grandmother arrested in Indiana for buying two whole boxes of cold medicine in less than a week. As you’re probably aware, most states have greatly limited the ability to buy cold medicine [...]

  91. #91 |  SayUncle » Drugs continue winning war on drugs | 

    [...] Grandmother arrested for buying cold medicine. [...]

  92. #92 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #6 Aunty Nanny

    Steve and Dave, I’ll go one further; for every law proposed and passed, one existing law has to be recinded. That should weed out a tonne of stupidity quickly.

    But, I have no confidence they wouldn’t weed out the few good laws and leave the really bad one. I’m such a pessimist. When I die, planet earth will probably become noticeably brighter. ;)

  93. #93 |  Foobs | 

    I’m a big believer in prosecutorial discretion, but one of the side effects is that sweeping laws can be passed that virtually no one can or will abide by and then the ‘wrong’ people can be arrested. That, after all, is the point (though no one seemed to explain that to Nina).

    The drug war is just another example of people being caught in the cycle of what they’re doing not working and the only response that is psychologically available to them is to do more of it. I wish I had more hope, but the only thing that I see that can stop the wave of stupidity is the avalanche of debt…

  94. #94 |  Josh | 

    Of course The Agitator’s posters are the only ones on the internet with common sense. Do a google search on this story and you’ll want to blow your brains out after seeing how many people repeat that tired and ridiculous “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” line.

    An old woman was arrested for buying cold medicine for her grandchildren. If there are any aliens cruising around out there, I hope they’ll nuke us from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  95. #95 |  links for 2009-09-30 at So It’s Come To This: | 

    [...] The Agitator Blog Archive Hoosier Grandmother Arrested for Purchasing Cold Medication (tags: ping.fm) [...]

  96. #96 |  Randy | 

    So if she went in and bought a box , her husband went in and bought a box, and her daughter went in and bought a box they would have 3 boxes instead of 2 and no laws broken. or does it go by address or name ?

  97. #97 |  Aunty Nanny | 

    Randy, your proposal should work, infact I had thought of that myself. However, TPTB have more than likely thought of desparate meth makers getting the whole clan in on the action, and will run by addy and names.

    What would or could TPTB do if every hayfever sufferer sent a weeks worth of used snot rags at a time to every legislator who voted in this well meaning but misguided law?

    Honestly, why make otherwise honest and law abiding citizens suffer for the crimes of the few who are acting in anti-social ways? Instead of making this stuff a schedule-IV ‘lite’ drug, execute those caught useing it to make meth. Those who use the crap, arrest them. Give them one chance to rehab. If caught again with the shit, execute ‘em!

    Sorry for the rant, bad day. I have mold allergies.

  98. #98 |  Brian | 

    Here we go again polticians trying to pass a bill that will help protect every American citizen and help us become a better person. Give me a break!! It’s sad when a prosecutor and local, state, and federal authoritites can’t admit when their’s a problem with one of their laws. Obviously this woman had no idea that she was breaking the law, if she had I’m sure she would not have done it, but instead the prosecutor points out that everyone should know the law and that ignorance is no excuse in this case. I’m waiting for the day when the politicians will pass a law saying that being fat is a crime and that everyone should have read the labels on their food purchases and figured out how many fat grams were in each of those BIG MACS that so many of us have ate. So the next time police are busting down your door and arresting you for breaking the law maybe the prosecutor can say something stupid like, “People should go down to the local hospital and see how many fat babys are being born and the risk that mothers are putting their children in”. Hopefully one day politicians will pass a law saying that being stupid is a crime, if so I know of one prosecutor that should be in jail with the police chief sitting next to her!!!

  99. #99 |  brian | 

    Finally, some awareness comes to a whole series of laws, written by our wonderful politians/ lawyers, sponsered by the Bar Assocation, now Vice President Biden, and a whole host of democracrats, feminists and many more who want the Consitution, The Bill of Rights and every other protection afforded us as citizens to go away.
    Men are demonized, persecuted and destroyed by the thousands every single day with the new “Domestic Violence Laws”, that all the polititians, Lawyers, Judges etc… uphold (becuase it is making them all very wealthy) as “necessary” since it is a “worthy cause”.
    False allegations are brought-up in almost every single divorce now, because it is simple to do, has devistating consiquences, and everyone walks away immune from civil lawsuits etc… since the real criminals (the politians/ lawyers) who sponser the legislation, laws etc… hide behind the cause ” I am going after drugs”, I am going after men who batter women (all things that anyone would agree with), but then violate the very fundamentals of our country, legal system, criminal justice system and completely and utterly destroy perfectly innocent, hard working fathers, grandmothers, children, families etc…
    They should all be publically admonished, criminalized and prosecuted for purposly and malicously writting laws that they know break the constitution, the Bill of Rights and all fundamental laws, knowing that it will take many many years and millions of dollars for the laws to be challenged, overturned and deamed illegal, meanwhile we are all the victums.
    I hope and pray that the public becomes more aware from stories like this, and organize a revolt against the immoral, illegal, manipulative lying polititians who create these outragous laws to appease feminist groups, polical action committies, lobbyist and the like to “buy” votes for office.
    They should all be put into prison, destroy their careers, families, reputation etc… until they wake up and stop the abuse of State Power for political gain.
    Victum of malicous prosecution myself! My poor family is the true victum, but the only thing they care about is writting more of these laws, so that they will all take many years and millions to overturn, and the process just keeps continuing.
    Bunch of criminals.

  100. #100 |  MJ | 

    Prosecutor Nina Alexander & Sheriff Jon Marvel are a SPECIAL kind of STUPID!!! They not only are morons but they are WASTING TAX DOLLARS!!! Are people in Indiana so uneducated that they voted for these idiots? They should be run out of town after being tarred & feathered. THIS IS UNAMERICAN.

  101. #101 |  OtherDave | 

    The thing of it, though, is the D.A. and the Sheriff’s office, it’s their job to enforce the law, not decide which ones are stupid and shouldn’t be enforced. Imagine if you call the cops because your spouse is beating you up, but the cop doesn’t do anything because “he thinks that law is stupid”.

    Granted, in Nina’s case I wouldn’t be defending it saying “but it gets rid of the Meth addicts”, I would have pursued a different course, whereby purchasing that much pseudoephedrine constitutes probable cause for a search; if they find she’s making crystal meth, then bust her. Make the resale of the drug by a non-pharmacy a misdemeanor, and viola. Folks who want to avoid jail but want a quick buck are properly discouraged (a short jail stint will dissuade you from that nicely), and if you continue to do it, you’re part of the meth dealer’s distro network, and you can go to jail for a lot of time accordingly.

    Everybody who needs it gets busted, now wasn’t THAT tough?

  102. #102 |  Ex-methmonster | 

    These laws are created to arrested people on government fabricated drug charges.
    Once the the government deemed it necessary to put a control on the sale of pseudoephedrine laced products,that made these products a controlled substance.
    How many controlled substances can be purchased without a prescription?(excluding illegal substances such as coke,meth,herion,ect.)
    By stopping the sale of these cold pills containing pseudoephedrine at the pharmacy counter without a prescription,stops the ma & pa manufacturing process thats reaking havoc on these communities.
    The government doesn’t want to stop this cycle,just control it.
    The prescription law that Oregon currently has reinforces my post.
    Their ma & pa meth lab problem is nearly non-existant.

  103. #103 |  Maybe granny should start making meth to pay for her bail? | You All Disgust Me | 

    [...] go out to Inquisitr, RumorMillNews, The Agitator, [...]

  104. #104 |  Jacques St. Charles | 

    Lots of big talk here. When will you slaves in Indiana rebel?

    Throw these 2 bastards out. Period.

    And the rest of you – when these low life snot balls walk into your stores – refuse to serve them. No groceries. No gas. No nothing!

    Make them pariahs in their own town.

    Say it’s because you don’t want to blindly break some law.

  105. #105 |  cold med's pappy | 

    Let them know what you think !!!!

    Vermillion County Prosecutor
    P. O. Box 249
    Newport, IN. 47966-0249

    1st Floor of the Courthouse in Newport Indiana

    (800) 340-8155
    Ext: 123 Office Manager Mary Lunsford
    Ext: 124 Deputy Prosecutor Greg Carter
    Ext: 125 Prosecutor Nina Alexander

    Local (765) 492-3618
    Fax (765) 492-7043

  106. #106 |  david | 

    i wish i could be around when the lord brings these sinners to his court.im not talking about grandma either

  107. #107 |  kat | 

    I feel for this grandma. This happened to me in 2006. I had never even had a traffice ticket let along been arrested for anything. I hope she can get it erased from her record because it has haunted me. I even got turned down at Walmart for a part time job because of this arrest. I wish her luck in fighting it.

  108. #108 |  How to tell if you’re an Asshole | Miscellaneous Heathen | 

    [...] an Indiana prosecutor, and you’re hell-bent-for-leather on jailing a grandmother for buying too much [...]

  109. #109 |  Lou | 

    This is what happens when you legistlate for the Village Idiot.

    Everyone involved in Gramma’s arrest should be summarily terminated from their positions. Do they think they’re working for the Gestapo?! Ridiculous, ridiculous, morons.

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