The Crystal Ship

     On behalf of everyone reading this, I’d like to thank all the crystal meth addicts for making it a real hassle to buy a single box of Sudafed from any drug store or supermarket pharmacy in America.
     Or more specifically, I’d like to thank senators Jim Talent and Dianne Feinstein for being the latest legislators to publicly expose their ignorance in the latest misstep in this country’s pathetic War on Drugs.
     Until September 2006, you or I could walk into the local drug store, or convenience store, and buy a box of Sudafed if we had a cold or sinus problems. But in March of that year president Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act, which included a provision called the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. This provision requires Sudafed and other over-the-counter products containing pseudoephedrine to be moved behind pharmacy counters.
     The law also requires buyers to present photo identification, sign a purchase log and restricts the amount one person can buy to nine grams a month, or 3.6 grams in one day.
     This is one of the more idiotic drug laws in recent memory. Where should I begin?
     How about the fact that pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine aren’t even necessary ingredients to make crystal meth? It is possible to make crystal meth without these ingredients.
     I’m no chemist, but there is a large, active and highly intelligent community on the internet that almost enthuses about the chemical makeup of drugs like crystal meth and LSD. A lot of these people come off as more interested in the chemical theories behind production of the drugs than actually making the drugs, but it is possible to make crystal meth without ephedrine and its cousins.
     For example, I found instructions online to make methamphetamine using the condensation product of phenylacetone and methylamine, whatever those are. Or you can make it using a reducing agent such as LiAIH. You can also make methamphetamine from the amino acid phenylalanine, which can be bought at health food stores.
     I really have no idea what I just typed since I ignored chemistry when I took it in high school, but my point is that ephedrine is not a necessary ingredient to make methamphetamine.
     Back to the idiocy of this law. So I can’t buy more than nine grams of Sudafed in a month. Who’s checking that?
     Just before lunch I ran to a grocery store to buy a box of Sudafed for my wife. I had to present a photo ID and sign a logbook. What’s to prevent me from going across the street to Walgreen’s to buy another two boxes, and then going to the CVS down the street to buy another box, and then up to Publix to buy three more boxes? Nothing. I could have seven boxes of Sudafed within an hour, without even really trying.
     Ideally the pharmacy is supposed to scan your ID, but that’s rare. I’ve bought Sudafed at least twice in the past year, from two different stores, and I’ve witnessed other people buying it, and I’ve yet to see anyone at a pharmacy actually scan a driver’s license.
     I could go on about this law, but I’m running out of space.
     Crystal meth shouldn’t be legal, but it also shouldn’t make the rest of us feel like we need permission to buy medicine because we have a cold. Thanks tweakers.

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