Meth Laws

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I have piece up at Huffington Post today about a new study showing that Oregon’s 2006 law requiring a prescription for cold medicine. It has had little effect on either demand or supply.

But it has been a huge hassle for consumers, and has likely cost millions in unnecessary doctor visits and lost productivity.

Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark

25 Responses to “Meth Laws”

  1. #1 |  dave smith | 

    The editors of Huff may have misnamed your story…Your article makes the case that the restrictions on cold medicine has had a big impact on Meth and how people get it. The restrictions have made things WORSE.

    Great, great work.

  2. #2 |  BamBam | 

    And Portland, OR area people drive to Vancouver, WA to buy cold medicine. But this “loophole” has been targeted to be shut down. The only ways to implement it is to inspect OR vehicles leaving WA, or to require WA retailers to ask for ID when buying cold medicine, and if the person is non-WA then refuse to sell. The ID requirement is likely to spread, but no sir that was NEVER part of the original plan.

  3. #3 |  JSL | 

    BamBam, they’ll probably start the car searches with the planned tolls to pay for the new bridge/road work/light rail to nowhere.

    This will be fun to see the local reaction. There are plenty of law and order types (on both sides) who support this law despite any hassles it produces.

  4. #4 |  kant | 


    Does the Oregon (and Mississippi) law actually say prescribe? I ask simply because one of the key features on all the medical marijuana laws was that they say “doctor recommendation” and not prescribe because they don’t have the authority to say prescribe. That would require changing the CSA which is obviously a federal law.

  5. #5 |  ex-Long Island | 

    My wife worked quite a bit overseas, and law like these are nightmares for US expats. Medicines like these simply aren’t available in many nations around the world, so Americans heading out of the country for a few years would normally stock up in order to have enough to last for an entire tour. Needless to say, thanks to laws like this, that isn’t possible anymore.

  6. #6 |  FTP | 

    @ex-Long Islander

    Out of curiosity, in which countries are cold medicines unavailable? Do they tend to be developing countries, or countries (Singapore comes to mind) with draconian drug laws?

  7. #7 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    The TSA checked my palm sweat with some chemical scanner as I flew out of the USSA last time.
    I’m still wondering what they were checking for.
    Pseudoephedrine is my latest hunch–you can make meth with that shit.

  8. #8 |  b | 

    there are substantially fewer meth labs out here in the woods since this law took effect.

  9. #9 |  Personanongrata | 

    Prohibition never works.

    How many times must we learn (re-learn) the lesson?

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

  10. #10 |  Dante | 

    Cold medicine prohibition – hah! The drug warriors spend all day running in circles to prevent cold relief, one tablet at a time. They only affect law abiding citizens. I’m sure there are cold medicine swat teams getting warmed up as we speak. What heroes!

    Meanwhile, just a few days ago in Mexico, they found a lab with TONS of it. Tons and tons of pure meth, all in one place. The police/narcs had a really nice photo-op, and said all the predictable things about “victory” and “saving the children”. It was the biggest meth bust ever (since the last one, just a few months before which was the biggest since the previous one, and so on, and so on).

    I’m sure that was the only lab in Mexico.

  11. #11 |  Stephen | 

    It’s cheaper to buy meth from Mexico in volume than it is to buy cold medicine in the USA. THAT is why there are fewer labs here. Nothing to do with the silly laws. The only people that could undercut the cartels are established pharmaceutical companies if it were legal.

  12. #12 |  Warren | 

    Prohibition may never work, but graft, patronage and make-work programs for otherwise useless idiots are always popular.

  13. #13 |  CyniCAl | 

    A nail in Hobbes’ coffin?

  14. #14 |  Ornithorhynchus | 

    And now it looks like they’re going to pass the same sort of law in Oklahoma.

  15. #15 |  JOR | 

    “Prohibition never works.”

    It does, if you’re serious about it (capital punishment for use or possession will do it).

    While that would obviously be a moral catastrophe compared to the status quo, the prohibition as we have it now works perfectly well, if you look at the aims and agenda of the people who enforce it. It’s profitable and justifies ever greater power and prestige for certain institutions, like law enforcement.

  16. #16 |  Marty | 


    can you cite an example showing where capital punishment fixed anything, much less recreational drug usage? everything I’ve read shows crime goes further underground and govt gets more corrupt as the penalties increase…

  17. #17 |  winston smith | 

    Cooking Meth: How Government Manufactured a Drug Epidemic

  18. #18 |  Personanongrata | 

    #15 | JOR | February 22nd, 2012 at 1:10 am
    “Prohibition never works.”

    It does, if you’re serious about it (capital punishment for use or possession will do it).

    The forty years waging the “war on drugs”, the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on eradication/interdiction/incarceration and the destruction of the constitution are not to be considered “serious”?

  19. #19 |  Big A | 

    #18- but it’s not working

  20. #20 |  Jim | 

    Prohibition ALWAYS works.

    For the STATE.

  21. #21 |  KristenS | 

    @FTP – I was unable to find American cold medicine in China in the mid-90’s, even in Western department stores. It was all Chinese herbal stuff, which had no effect whatsoever on my symptoms. I have no idea if it’s because of drug laws or medical culture, though.

  22. #22 |  Kyle | 

    # 4 Kant,

    In Mississippi it is definitely prescription. They are such a pain in the ass about it that the Doctors are concerned about even writing a prescription for pseudoephedrine. I asked my MD for a prescription when I went in for my annual checkup and he would only write for the 4h kind vs. 12h due to amount of drug in each and he didn’t want the heat from the state. The state jackasses have also made it illegal to buy the medication elsewhere as well. If I drive across the state line to buy it, where it’s legal and I would still have to provide ID, etc. I can be arrested as soon as I drive back into MS.

  23. #23 |  Russ 2000 | 

    can you cite an example showing where capital punishment fixed anything, much less recreational drug usage? everything I’ve read shows crime goes further underground and govt gets more corrupt as the penalties increase…

    It appears you have a different definition of “works” than the government does.

  24. #24 |  HR | 

    I remember when it was condoms that were kept behind the counter and cold medicine was kept on the shelf. Government is only concerned about Type II error avoidance, it is seldom disciplined by the hidden costs of being over-cautious, so there’s always more meddling into what people do.

  25. #25 |  conservative spartan | 

    It seems we’re always fighting the government just to maintain basic freedoms. Here we go again. Now we have an effort to restrict cold tablet sales to law abiding citizens in an effort to thwart meth labs.
    Various legislative bills will mandate going to the doctor to get cold tablets. The Big 3, the police, some in the Assembly and Senate believe this will save the state money and solve our meth problems.
    Excellent! A bi-partisan effort to save Oklahoma from its meth problem and save the state some money. We applaud those efforts.
    From Kentucky’s fiscal note on a similar bill currently under consideration, “Although the exact amount of savings cannot be determined, the information reviewed above indicates that a conservative estimate of savings would be in the $12 to $20 million range.” Millions saved, perfect!
    But let’s examine the facts behind “solving the meth problem” and its impact on us, the law abiding citizens of Oklahoma.
    First, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center’s 2011 threat assessment, Mexico is once again the “primary source of methamphetamine” in the U.S. That’s after Mexico banned the sale of all pseudoephedrine (PSE) in 2008. So a complete ban of PSE in Mexico produced the #1 threat of meth in the U.S. within two years. In fact, seizures of methamphetamine at the Laredo, TX customs district — the nation’s largest inland port — are on pace this fiscal year to surpass last year’s total by about 60 percent, reaching an expected total of about 1,650 pounds. Hmmm. Seems like the drug manufacturers are resilient.
    Well that’s Mexico, what about Oklahoma? In order to get around the restrictions on PSE sales, a new method to manufacture meth has been developed or more accurately an old method has been rediscovered. The P2P method was popular in the 1970’s. There is no new chemistry here; in fact, most of it is almost 100 years old. Sounds a bill can’t defeat a resourceful and knowledgeable illegal drug manufacturer.
    Certainly with the state saving millions, the Big 3’s good intentions are worth something. But let’s look at the new costs to Oklahoma. Instead of going to the corner pharmacy and buying $10 worth of cold tablets, you’ll have to go to the doctor.
    The new system will be to call your Doctor and make a priority appointment. Go to the appointment, lose 2 hours of work ($15/hr. = $30), pay a visit co-pay of $20 (insurance pays the balance of $150), drop off the prescription at pharmacy, and go back to work. After work pick up prescription, pay $5 co-pay (insurance picks up the now $15 balance) go home and take the medication. Total projected cost is $220. That’s a $210 premium!
    $210 multiplied by Oklahoma’s estimate of 1.5 million packages sold per year and you get $315,000,000. That’s over a quarter of a billion dollar cost shift.
    So let’s add this up. Mexico is the #1 meth manufacturer. New manufacturing methods are getting around cold tablet bans. Oklahoman’s will absorb over a quarter of a billion dollars to save Oklahoma a maximum of $20 million. Only the Big 3 would call a complete ban good. “Government logic?”
    It’s not the medicine, it how it’s being misused. Duh.
    We’re glad Gov Fallin is trying to find a realistic and reasonable approach to this issue. In fact, Gov Fallin is wisely trying to find the middle ground here.
    At least Gov Fallin realizes the citizens of Oklahoma don’t need to pay the Fab 3’s quarter billion dollar vanity premium to solve the misuse of a legal drug.