Over The Counter, Behind Bars

I went to buy some pseudoephedrine yesterday because we ran out at home. A sign on the shelf prompted me to ask for it at the pharmacy. They would only sell it to me in small blister-packs and in order to buy any, they wanted to transcribe all of the information on my driver’s license.

A little bit of research reveals that this is roughly connected to the national Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, signed into law earlier this year as part of the PATRIOT act extension. Apparently, pseudoephedrine is used to created (illegal) methamphetamine and meth chemists qualify as terrorists under PATRIOT.

States, however, have gone even further. Oregon has gone so far as to make pseudoephedrine a Schedule III controlled substance that requires a prescription. Many other states, like Massachusetts have made pseudoephedrine a over-the-counter drug that’s kept, well, on the other side of the counter. It was, I think, the first I ever had to buy an over-the-counter drug over a counter. Usually, I just pick it off the shelf myself.

I find that fact slightly humorous. But it hardly seems worth collecting and recording a pile of personal information on every person who wants to buy a weeks worth of cold medicine — particularly when the largest producers of U.S. meth remain outside of the country.