Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Maybe it's none of my business, but. . .

Considering that this is happening in Mississippi-- not Alabama-- maybe it's none of my business. . . However, some people (charged with controlling illegal drug use in MS) are already expressing hopes that the states surrounding MS (which do include AL, by the way (g)) will "follow suit", so it may be just a matter of time.

The story, briefly, is this:
Lawmakers in MS are on the verge of requiring people in their state to have a doctor's prescription to buy "cold medications containing pseudoephedrine"-- i.e. Sudafed & similar. In case you've been living under a rock the past few years (or in a place where meth isn't a problem), this is because these drugs can be used (in combination with other chemicals) to create homemade drugs-- meth.

They've already moved these cold and sinus medicines behind the counter and required you to sign for them in the pharmacy.  (Or at least I think that's how it works.  Honestly, I've never bought Sudafed.  ...Which may lead you to wonder why I care at all.  Mainly, I care because I want to know I can get it if I ever do need it, and because the situation is just ridiculous.)

So, as if that wasn't enough of a hassle, the next step is requiring you to have a doctor's prescription to buy something that ten years ago (I'm estimating here) would've been sitting on the shelf near the aspirin and Tylenol.  Not because the drug itself is known to be more dangerous, now-- it's the same as it's ever been-- but because there are some idiots out there who use it to make an illegal drug.

Apparently they're having lots of trouble with meth labs in MS:
Meth lab busts and arrests have skyrocketed in the state of Mississippi over the past year. There were more than 500 labs busted in 2009, that's 441more than in 2008. The new popular way to make the drug, the shake and bake method, is contributing to the problem.

"2009 is the first year methamphetamine arrests have surpassed all other drug arrests, not just in Jackson County but in the state of Mississippi," Narcotics Task Force Commander Lt. Curtis Spiers said.
 Well, that's bad, but is there really no better solution than requiring a prescription?
Lt. Spiers said the proposed ban against selling meds with meth ingredients to people who don't really need them won't create a problem for the people who are truly ill and need them.
"There are over 24 other different types of cold remedies, over the counter cold remedies, that are still available. This doesn't mean in any way shape or from that anyone who has the common cold has to go see a doctor because of it, it simply states you are going to have to go see a doctor to get a prescription for Sudafed," Lt. Spiers said.
Ok. . . But what if I want to take Sudafed?  What if I've found that it works best for me-- better than the "over 24 other different types of cold remedies"?

Proponents of the measure say that if you truly need the medicine, you'll still be able to get it-- yes, but only after you go to the doctor for something that most of us would never see a doctor about, under normal circumstances.  Set aside the expense of seeing the doctor when you really don't need to (probably the biggest objection).  What about the inconvenience?  What about the fact that every time you go to the doctor, you're mixing with a group of other ill people, swapping your cold for their flu?  What about the time (doctors', nurses', etc.) that will be wasted on people who just need a prescription for their Sudafed?

Of course, maybe some health care professionals actually like the idea:
Alexis Graves is a certified Pharmaceutical technician at Walgreens, she says the proposed law would give pharmacists and techs like her more time to concentrate on real patients.

"I think it is going to be an excellent idea, it really takes time from us when we are trying to fill prescriptions for customers who really need our customer service than dealing with a lot of meth heads in this town. If they get that law passed I'll really appreciate it, me and our team that works in the pharmacy," Graves said.
Alright. . . Here's an idea-- if you recognize the same people coming again and again for Sudafed-- if they seem to resemble in any way a "meth head"-- why not make a note of it and contact the authorities?  Just an idea. . . (I suppose that would make too much sense.  It's too much like profiling.  Or something. . .)

Then there's the argument that the drug-makers will just go over state lines to buy the medicine.  (That, of course, is why they hope the rest of us will adopt similar laws.)  I tend to agree that as long as there's any way possible to make the drug (and make it profitably), some low-life will find it.  Meanwhile, the law-abiding folks have to suffer yet another inconvenience-- another expense.

Maybe I'm just a heartless you-know-what for even thinking it, but even if we do manage to make meth a thing of the past, many (maybe even most) of the people who are hooked on it or would become addicted in the future will just find some other way to ruin their lives.  You can't protect people from everything in the world, including themselves.

There are plenty of other illegal drugs out there, despite the never-ending war on drugs.  (I'm not one of the nuts who feel it should all be legalized, but what we've been doing so far hasn't solved the problem of drug use.)  Then there's that perfectly legal drug, alcohol.  Maybe alcohol doesn't belong in the same category as meth, but it's certainly possible to ruin your life and someone else's with too much alcohol.

Life would be so much easier if fewer people were perfect imbeciles.  I have a hard time being patient with my fellow man, sometimes.