Patriot Act makes it harder to get real Sudafed

Courtesy of BoingBoing:

After Paul Boutin cured his blocked sinuses with one does of old-school Sudafed, he looked into the reason why it was taken from the shelves, and learned that Senator Diane Feinstein decided to make it harder to get as part of the PATRIOT act.

To buy original formula Sudafed, Wal-fed, or other pseudophedrine sinus medicine that actually works (not the new Sudafed PE), go to your supermarket or drugstore and look in the cold remedies sections where it used to be. They now have little fake boxes or cards you take to the pharmacist to say "I want one of these." The pharmacist checks your ID and you sign for it.

Why can't you buy Sudafed over the counter anymore?

The renewed USA PATRIOT Act signed into law in March includes a "Meth Act" aimed at reducing production of methamphetamines, which can be manufactured from pseudophedrine, aka Sudafed. That's why Sudafed changed their over-the-counter formula to Sudafed PE. You can still buy Sudafed original if you go to the pharmacist at Safeway or Walgreens. But you can only buy one box a day and three a month, and you need to present a photo ID and sign a log for the pharmacist. The idea is to keep meth dealers from buying Sudafed in quantity to cook it into methamphetamine. The bill was attached to the Patriot Act after co-authors Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jim Talent (R-MO) were unable to get it passed by other means.

Several people have emailed to let me know they think that people who suffer from debilitating sinus headaches should stop whining and let the government do its job ridding the planet of drug abuse. (Because the government has a really good track record in the War or Drugs.) I disagree with these people.

For one thing, I'm one of those crazy (small l) libertarians who thinks drug laws, on the whole, hurt society more than they help society, so I don't like this law. It's a shame that some people ruin their lives and their families' lives by using meth and other drugs, but the innocent people killed by muggers who need money to buy expensive drugs, the enrichment of street gangs and organized crime rings that sell illegal drugs, the corruption of government officials who take bribes from smugglers, the people who are falsely arrested on trumped up drug charges, the people who are killed by crazed bounty hunters and police raiding the wrong houses, the seizure of property belonging to people who didn't know there were drugs on their property, and the imprisonment of non-violent drug users amount to a bigger problem, I think. I am in favor of abolishing all drug laws.

For another thing, the meth epidemic has been hyped out of proportion. Jack Shafer, editor of Slate, did a nice job debunking the meth epidemic myth last year.

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