Friday, June 6, 2008

Criminals with cold symptoms

I got to sign the pseudoephredine log book at Long's Drugs today, which was a small yet still annoying price to pay for the 10-pack of Aleve D they were holding behind the counter. I woke up this morning with such a head cold. The new-ish, "daytime formula" over-the-counter cold remedies make me crazy, so I had to queue up at the pharmacy, hand over my ID and sign the book, testifying that I am aware that nefarious uses of pseudoephredrine are punishable by law.

Since I've signed this book at other pharmacies, or done it electronically (Walgreen's, Montecito Shopping Center), I am familiar with this procedure. I have to talk myself down every time, that I'm not doing anything wrong, that I'm not going to get in trouble. It's really so lame that meth cookers have created a requirement that regular pill users like me have to write our names in the book.

I remember this creeping up on me, suddenly realizing when the OTC allergy pills I'd relied on for years were now making me jumpy, that something good had changed into something mediocre. Here's why:
Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which classified all nonprescription pseudoephedrine (PSE), ephedrine (EPH), and phenylpropanolamantine (PPA) products as "scheduled listed chemical products." The law required a log entry for sales of more than 60 mg of PSE and required the customer to show a federal- or state-issued photo ID.
Yes, meth is an epidemic and definitely needs to be shut down. But I do wonder how successful this change is in reducing the meth-idemic. I have been seeing a lot of anti-meth messaging in English and Spanish just in the past few months, which would seem to indicate that since passage of the law in 05, things have perhaps not improved.

But they should be doing a better job on the log-book thing. It's amazing that during my entire transaction, as the monosyllabic pharmacist was ringing up my pills and vitamin water and pencil leads, the book was left open for my review. I read every line of the page I signed, all the names, addresses, signatures and drugs of choice of dozens of criminals with cold/allergy symptoms just looking for some relief. That lack of privacy just doesn't seem right. I mean, I don't care if the government knows I have a cold, but do my neighbors need to?

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