There are countless articles like this on the web. Missouri is not the only state that has passed laws regarding the purchase of all cold medications containing sudafed. Oklahoma has a real meth lab problem, so I understand the concern. However, the law really does little to help with the problem.
I began thinking about this after an early-morning trip to the grocery store today. I got up before the children today to go get groceries for the week ahead. It so happens that the whole family has colds, and we are nearly out of cold medicine. So I went to the cold medicine section of the store as soon as I got there to stock up on a few items. Now, I knew there was some restriction on how much sudafed I could buy, so I tried to restrain myself. I put one box of regular sudafed into my cart to use for our children. I put one box of generic alka-seltzer like cold medicine, as it is what my husband prefers for cold symptom relief. Finally, I chose one box of sudafed mixed with a pain reliever and another box of sudafed with pain reliever and an antihistamine for me as my symptoms sometimes vary. There you have it–middle class housewife attempts to purchase 4 boxes of cold medications, but she is stopped in her tracks by the clever checkout clerk! Store policy (in place because of state law) is that customers can only buy 3 products containing sudafed. The clerk stopped scanning items when her register gave her a notice of my attempt to go above the limit. She looked at the register tape, and promptly put one of my boxes of sudafed to the side. She didn’t even tell me what she was doing. So I asked her, “What’s the problem? Did I go over the limit on sudafed products?” She said, “Yes. You can only buy 3 at one time.” I said, “Can I at least look at the one you tossed aside to decide which one I would like to do without?” She handed me the box. It was the one I picked up for the kids. Then I said, “Is there anything to stop me from coming through the line again just to buy the one box of sudafed?” She said “No.” I said, “Well, then, the policy doesn’t do much good, does it?” So I paid for my groceries, went over to the pharmacy area, and picked up the sudafed I needed for the children, and paid at the pharmacy check-out.
Here’s my thought on this. This is a stupid law. Meth dealers who really want to buy their supplies from their local grocery store can go to the store with several of their buddies, and they can all buy the limit. Then they can go to another check-out stand and buy some more. Then they can go down the street and buy the limit at the local drug store. But I, a housewife and mother of 4 who has legitimate reasons for buying multiple packages of sudafed products, am forced to extend my trip to the grocery store by having to go through the checkout line a second time. It wasn’t that big of a hassle, but it still was irritating. If I hadn’t been paying attention to the clerk, she would have just trown my box to the side, I would have driven 14 miles home, and found that I didn’t have all the cold medicine I needed. Then I would have been really ticked.
Here’s the thing. It is like gun control laws. They don’t work because the only people who are really hurt by them are the law abiding citizens who get their guns from the gun dealers, filing proper papers, registering their guns as the law requires. Do criminals really get hampered from committing heinous crimes by the law requiring guns to be registered? No. Criminals get their guns by other means. They steal them. They buy them illegally on the streets. It is the same with meth makers and dealers. They get their supplies by going around the law–which as I proved–is really quite easy. In the meantime, law-abiding citizens like me get hassled at the grocery store for buying one extra box of cold medicine on the off chance that I might be a meth lab owner/dealer. The other crazy thing about it is that the rule is not standardized across the country. Some states allow customers to purchase only 2 boxes of sudafed, while others, allow customers to purchase 3 or 4. Another wrinkle in the law is that there seems to be no limit to the number of pills per box that are allowed. In other words, I can buy 3 boxes containing 8 sudaphed pills, or 3 boxes containing 24 sudaphed pills. How can laws like this really help to stop the production of methanphetamines? In reality, they can’t and they don’t. They just soothe the collective conscience of the lawmakers that they are “doing something” to put a stop to this crime. So while legislaters are patting themselves on the back for curbing the drug problem in America, I am having to spend more time in line at the grocery store and drug dealers and quite easily getting around this bogus law.