Home > posts > Breaking Worse: How Government’s Goofy Response to Meth Assaults Liberty
September 30th, 2013 7:19 pm
Breaking Worse: How Government’s Goofy Response to Meth Assaults Liberty

Meth may have inspired “Breaking Bad,” one of the greatest shows in the history of television, but the drug also inspired some of the dumbest laws in U.S. history. 

As part of a futile attempt to reduce meth production, state and local governments are engaged in an inept and insulting war on innocent Americans.

Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in cold and allergy medicines such as Sudafed, Actifed, Contac and Claritin-D, can be used as a component in methamphetamine production. Upon realizing this, governments reacted in a truly ridiculous way. Rather than punishing the people who cook and distribute the dangerous illegal drug, governments have attacked the freedoms of responsible adults by making it an extraordinary hassle to obtain simple cold medicines.

States have forced retailers to put pseudoephedrine products behind the counter and placed strict limits on how much pseudoephedrine a customer can purchase. Some state and local governments even require a doctor’s prescription to purchase these previously over-the-counter and widely available cold and allergy relief products.

In a chilling case of Big Brother gone wild, a national database has even been devised to collect names, birthdates and other personal data in order to track individuals who buy pseudoephedrine.

Such laws are an affront to the presumption of innocence, since the policies operate on the nonsensical basis that every person walking into a Walgreens to buy a box of Actifed is guilty of cooking meth.

To make matters worse, none of these laws that harm innocent Americans struggling with colds and allergies actually prevent people who want to cook meth from doing so. In some cases, meth producers pay groups of people to purchase legal amounts of pseudoephedrine for them. With a large enough band of helpers, they still easily collect more than enough pseudoephedrine to cook meth.

Other meth producers simply respond by inventing newer meth recipes that require less pseudoephedrine. In “Breaking Bad,” meth producers bypass pseudoephedrine restrictions by eliminating pseudoephedrine altogether from their recipes.

Many law enforcement personnel see the pseudoephedrine restrictions as a joke and even admit they fail to curb meth production. According to a report by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, only 40 percent of law enforcement officers believe that decreasing the sales limits for pseudoephedrine is an effective policy option.

It’s clear that no matter what ludicrous laws governments dream up in an attempt to stop meth production, meth cooks will quickly figure out ways around them. In reality, the laws are only successful in keeping pseudoephedrine products out of the hands of Americans hoping to cure a stuffy nose.

If government is to fight meth, it should do so by penalizing producers and distributors, rather by harassing law-abiding Americans.

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