Pubdate: Thu, 26 Aug 2004
Source: Oak Ridger (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Oak Ridger
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


When it comes to buying decongestants in Tennessee, will the innocent
citizens have to suffer a loss of privacy because of the misdeeds of
criminals? Gov. Phil Bredesen's Task Force on Methamphetamine Abuse has been
studying ways to get pseudoephedrine out of the hands of meth producers.

Pseudoephedrine is the main ingredient in many popular over-the-counter cold
and allergy relief medicines.

It's also the main ingredient in the making of methamphetamine, a highly
addictive stimulant known as "poor man's crack" that attacks the central
nervous system.

One of the possibilities that the state Legislature might consider next year
is that a registry be set up so that whenever you buy the cold pills, you
would have to sign for them, and your name would be put on file.

If you purchase more pills than would be needed for personal use, that could
trigger a law enforcement inquiry. Tennessee also may consider making
pseudoephedrine equivalent to a controlled substance that can be dispensed
only by pharmacists.

This idea is not popular among pharmacists because they are afraid it will
put them on the front line of law enforcement and leave them vulnerable to
armed robbery.

Task force member Doug Wilson, a Rite Aid pharmacist from Rockwood in Roane
County, sensibly suggested pulling from shelves only the products used by
the illegal meth makers, rather than removing them all.

Surely, the Legislature can strike a compromise between the need to curtail
meth production and the rights of honest citizens to buy their cold pills
without jumping through too many regulatory hoops.
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