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March 19, 2005 - The Burlington Times-News (NC)

Editorial: Cold Remedy Control Is Not A Tool Of Drug War

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Get ready to add another casualty to our failed war on drugs. If North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and some state senators get their way, cold and allergy sufferers who want to buy Sudafed tablets - or its generic version - will have to go to a pharmacy and show an ID before being able to get relief.

By the way, you'll have to get the cold remedy from the pharmacist - not a clerk or a pharmacist assistant. At some drug stores, where pharmacists are already quite busy, be prepared to wait in line.

If you're younger than 18, tough luck. Only adults would be able to purchase the product.

You won't be able to stop by the grocery store on your way home or go out late and night to the convenience store and purchase the items. Sure, you'll be able to purchase the liquids, liquid capsules or gel capsules, which are sometimes more expensive, but not the tablets.

A bill, introduced by Sens. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford, and John Snow, D-Cherokee, would make pseudoephedrine a controlled substance. It's all an attempt to battle the production of methamphetamine.

Pseudoephedrine is a key component in the manufacture of meth. While the ultimate goal of the proposal - to reduce the manufacture of, and hopefully the use of meth - is a laudable one, this method of combating the dangerous drug meth is a bad one.

If the bill becomes law, cold sufferers won't be the first innocent casualties of the war on drugs. There are many.

Among them are taxpayers. The N.C. Department of Correction Web site lists 4,787 people who are in the state's prisons on nontrafficking drug charges.

With the average cost to keep someone in prison a year in North Carolina being about $24,000, that's an annual $114.9 million bill being picked up by the taxpayers.

Then there are property rights being violated. The government, in some instances, seizes a person's property in drug cases even though the person has not been found guilty of a drug crime.

There are many more. We don't question that the abuse of drugs is a serious problem in North Carolina. And we certainly agree that meth is a dangerous drug.

There's an old saying that goes something like this: Never use an ax to remove a fly from a friend's forehead. The plain meaning of the old saying is that one should not overreact to a situation and cause more harm than good. The push to make this cold remedy more difficult to get is an overreaction. For cold and allergy sufferers, it does more harm than good.

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