Another Stupid Idea from Our Politicians

Megan Rudebeck at the Adam Smith Institute notes that a new bill designed to reduce the production of methamphetimines is not only going to be an annoyance for legitimate consumers, but also probably not going to work. Methamphetimine can be produced using large amounts of cold remedies that contain psuedoephedrine. And methamphetimines is becoming an increasing problem in many states. So naturally the political solution is to restrict the sale of cold medicines that contain psuedoephedrine.

Under the measure, remedies like Sudafed would be require signing a sheet and showing your driver’s license. Buyers would be restricted to three boxes a month, spread over different days.


But let’s be honest. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and this legislation will probably do very little to actually curb meth production. The people that make and use the drug are already lawbreakers, who will probably do whatever they need to in order to get the ingredients they need.

So, it becomes difficult to purchase cold remedies with psuedoephedrine legitimatel in the U.S., so what will the criminals do who produce methamphetimines? Purchase it illegally? Naw, that would be against the law and these criminals wouldn’t want to become crimi…oh…wait…nevermind.

Here are some obvious results of this legislation (assuming it actually works as it is claimed to–heroic assumption):

  1. Methamphetimine manufacturers smuggle in cold remedies from Mexico and Canada.
  2. Other criminals steal shipments of cold remedies to sell to methamphetimine makers.
  3. Methamphetimine manufacturers find (illegal) sources of psuedoephedrine.
  4. Methamphetimine manufacturers move their manufacturing to Mexico and/or Canada (goodness even more manufacturing jobs lost to outsourcing).

In short, not much will likely happen to the supply of methamphetimines unless these additional issues are addressed.

On top of that Megan also notes this tidbit of information,

A New York Times report on the measure noted that Food and Drug Administration officials argued that most meth was imported anyway. The article also cites a Congressional study from 1995 that found that BTC programs in other countries failed to make a significant impact on access to a drug.

So, in the end, this legislation will do very little to nothing to address the methamphetimine problem and will make purchasing cold remedies harder for the consumers with legitimate needs. Brilliant.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Economics and Business, Health, US Politics, , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Brian J. says:

    I’ve noted before that it also makes a non-confrontational crime (making drugs) into a confrontational crime (stealing ingredients) at the same time that it inconveniences non-criminals.

    It’s a no-brainer, win-win solution for legislators and law enforcement. Unfortunately, their goals don’t always coincide with those of members of a free and open society.

  2. Elmo says:

    Would love to add comments to this, and the WallieMart post. But, I’m just gonna step away from the console for a few days. But first wanted to say Merry Christmas All!

  3. cirby says:

    Then there’s always the “if all else fails, learn to make the pseudoephedrine yourself” route.

  4. Anderson says:

    This is already the practice at Wal-Mart, Kroger, & other merchants. A huge pain in the … nose.

    And head—these meds are crucial for sinus headaches.

    Part of the usual War on Drugs hysteria. Americans evidently lose their minds, and their rights, whenever “war” or “drugs” is involved, so no wonder the “war on drugs” sends us into a tizzy.

    (“This is your war. This is drugs. This is your war on drugs. Any questions?” Surely that’s been done, tho Google thinks not.)

    (I’m showing my age. Link here for the young.)

  5. D.C. Russell says:

    “War on drugs” is only a politically correct excuse.

    What is really going on here is that the gummint, both executive and legislative, has declared war on the innocent (and sick).

    Everyone buying medicine will be presumed guilty of drug-making until they identify themselves and prove themselves innocent.

    Everyone flying is presumed guilty of terrorism until they identify themselves and prove themselves innocent.

    Everyone entering a government building is presumed guilty of terrorism or wanting to kill gummint officials until they identify themselves and prove themselves innocent.

    And so on.

    What’s next?

    As for me, I’m beginning to presume that every public official is a corrupt, on-the-take, would be petty dictator, until proven innocent. And if they won’t act to prove themselves innocent of those charges, I won’t vote for any of them, from either party, for reelection.

  6. TWK says:

    If we can strictly control the dispensing of psuedoephedrine, why not just sell us something that works instead. We go through a few bottles of over the counter junk in a typical year, but we have never used up a whole bottle of the codine based stuff; you take it once a night and it works. Why hassle us for a marginal remedy, make codine based cough medicines available under the same restrictions. I guess that would make too much sense.

  7. Ben Dover says:

    By all means let’s not make any drugs illegal and we should label all of this nonsense “an Illness”. I see your daughter and son on the television series “interdiction” purging their needles with the water of a public commode on their hands and knees. This is what America wants?

  8. Ted says:

    The war on psuedoephedrine is already a huge pain. We visiting family in Georgia and our kids had runny noses. Normally, at home (TX), we give the kids some children’s chewable sudafed when needed. In Georgia, it was nowhere to be found. All psuedoephedrine products were kept behind the pharmacy counter, and since they had limited space, they had limited products. Chewable sudafed was one of the casualties.

    Not avalable at wal-mart, Publix, Eckerd, anywhere.

    Not to mention if you need some sudafed and it’s after 9:00, the pharmacy is usally closed and nobody can get you the stuff from behind the counter.

  9. Timmer says:

    We already have this law on the books here in Nebraska and it’s a royal pain in the butt simply because in a lot of smaller towns, there is no 24 hour pharmacy. There’s also a limit on how many doses you buy so God forbid your cold lasts longer than 7 days, you have to go back and buy more. Which makes it harder to buy generic versions because the generic versions come in too large a quantity of doses. You MUST buy less of the name brand and pay MORE. Gosh, I bet the drug companies hate that. (/SARCASM)