Pubdate: Sun, 17 Jul 2005
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Huntsville Times
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


It's early July, and we're at the Supercenter pharmacy trying to buy 
a box of store-brand allergy tablets.

Those little white tabs, with their magical mix of ingredients, are 
one of the few reasons to trek to the Supercenter these days. The big 
blue-faced monument to Chinese industry, with its oceanic parking lot 
and Disney-length checkout lines, just takes too much time.

But, man, those little tablets are good. They really work.

They're also regulated by the state now, of course, because that's 
the way it goes. If you like a thing, either everyone else does, too 
- - which means chronic shortages and prices through the roof - or 
someone decides it isn't good for you. They'll ban Jagermeister and 
sausage biscuits any day now.

It turns out one of the ingredients in the allergy tabs is ephedrine. 
It's a precursor chemical, in legal parlance, used to make bathtub 
crystal methamphetamine. Ephedrine isn't even the ingredient that 
tames our allergies, either. They could take it out as far as we're concerned.

But to buy the tabs now, we learn, your driver's license number must 
be in the Supercenter computer. You have to be in the system, on the 
grid, an approved purchaser - pick your own Orwellian phrase.

The goal is to keep you under the new Supercenter limit of two boxes 
of tabs per month. That's all the allergy relief the policy allows.

As we leave the counter, quickly hiding our stash from other allergy 
sufferers, because who knows what those poor people are capable of, 
we have to wonder. What's stopping us from buying two similar boxes 
at the drugstore on the corner and two other boxes from the drugstore 
across from that, and so forth until we reach home with a pile of tabs?

I decide I don't want to know. I'm sure black helicopters and 
computer spyware are involved. Then again, maybe the goal here is 
just covering the Supercenter's backside, so it can prove it isn't 
liable for the meth labs out there.

"Isn't it ironic?" a poet might ask. Privacy laws keep even family 
members from knowing that mom has cancer unless they're cleared to 
talk to the doctor, but the clerk at the Supercenter has the family's 
whole story at her fingertips, including when big sister's birth 
control runs out.

Over at the checkout line, where everyone reads the magazines to stay 
awake, but no one buys them, we're reminded of why this matters. Dr. 
Mary Holley, Arab's own local hero, is featured in People magazine 
for her war against meth on Sand Mountain.

Listen to Holley for about 10 minutes, and you're ready to enlist. In 
Alabama terms, that woman puts the hay down where the goats can get 
it. Anyone can understand her.

Unlike cocaine, unlike marijuana, even unlike heroin, nothing in 
methamphetamine is natural, she says. God didn't make this stuff, and 
your body can't process it. It's like a battery acid cocktail, and 
it's more addictive than you can imagine.


I'll shut up about surveillance at the Supercenter now. Some things 
are worse than the system, and it looks like we've found one.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth