Another fine meth

A West Virginia lawmaker who wants to introduce a bill that would require medications containing pseudoephedrine be available by prescription only has an uphill battle in the state Legislature. But the facts are on his side.

Pseudoephedrine is the key ingredient for making addictive methamphetamine and its use is exploding in West Virginia, says House of Delegates Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue, who along with Wood County Republican John Ellem intends to submit bills to restrict the availability of medicines containing the substance. Recently, the state’s Clandestine Drug Lab Remediation Program said 271 meth labs were uncovered in 2012. The Register-Herald reports that former Bush and Obama drug czar Keith Humphreys indicated between 50 and 80 percent of all pseudoephedrine-containing medications are used to make meth.

Prescription-only bills have not had an easy time of it in the Senate, despite having the support of the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy, Board of Medicine and Medical Association. Compromise legislation that limits how much a consumer could buy per day has instead given rise to the phenomenon of “smurf” buyers, those who are paid to purchase them. Meanwhile an electronic tracking system on sales of cold and allergy medicines passed by last year’s Legislature isn’t getting high marks either.

States that have passed prescription-only legislation have seen declines in the number of meth lab seizures. Predictably.

Lawmakers such as Berkeley County Delegate Larry Kump say they are opposed to requiring a prescription for the sale of Sudafed and its like on the grounds that such a law would be an example of the government punishing everybody for the bad behavior of a few. Of course it is. The “bad behavior of a few” is also why our tax dollars pay for police departments. There are a host of laws that “punish” the law-abiding because of the “bad behavior of a few.” None of us can make a right on red from George Street onto Washington Street in Charles Town because of a few who apparently can’t be trusted to do so safely and with caution. Try to convince the police officer that you shouldn’t be prevented from making such a turn because of the bad behavior of a few vehicular rapscillions who refuse to look both ways, won’t yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and won’t negotiate the corner properly.

The Legislature can continue to nibble around the edges of the problem to the detriment of too many West Virginians, or it can recognize the reasonableness of making a very potent substance available only to the people that need it and not to those who misuse it.




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