Convenience versus Safety: Drug abuse demands stricter laws

By Courtney Carlo 2005

In the land of drive-through windows and one-hour photo, inconvenience is avoided at all cost. When an inconvenience does come along, complaints are plentiful. Often times an inconvenience is for the good of someone else, or even a whole group of people. In this case, the inconvenience will benefit an entire state. If it catches on, it could benefit the entire country.

In April, Oklahome introduced a new law requiring pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in methamphetamine, to be located behind the counter in pharmacies. Customers will have to show their identification to a pharmacy employee and sign a log in order to purchase the drug Stores lacking a pharmacy will not be able to sell pills containing pseudoephedrine, but can still carry pesudoephedrine gel caps, which are harder to convert to meth.

After enacting the law, Oklahoma witnessed a 36 percent decrease in the average number of meth labs discovered. In addition to lessening the amount of meth available, this law will save millions of dollars because the state will not have to pay for the rising number of drug bust, and the number of meth addicts will decline along with the drug supply.

With results like these, it isn’t hard to imagine that other states, including Iowa, are looking to pass similar laws.

Despite the Oklahoma results, passing the bill in Iowa is no easy task. Last year, a bill almost identical to that which was passed in Oklahoma was declined with the help of major drug companies’ lobbyists trying to keep their products within easy reach for customers. Some companies say that their researchers are trying to create new products containing pseudoephedrine that cannot be converted to meth as easily as the current pills.

But the meth problem is here now, while the new drugs are not. Methamphetamine production has been a major problem all over the country for years, and the communities in need of control are done waiting for a perfect solution.

The watchful eye of a gas station employee can certainly be distracted. The potentially dangerous medication must be kept behind the counter in pharmacies to prevent the theft that occurs in gas stations and convenience stores despite the methods taken to prevent the illegal action.

Sneezing, coughing and runny noses are no doubt a pain in the neck. So is paying millions of dollars to house inmates, shut down meth labs and fund state addiction treatment programs. The problems that meth causes will never be totally eradicated; taking measures to lower the effects on our communities is as close as we can get.

During the cold and allergy season, sufferers will just have to pack their travel bag of Kleenex into the oh-so-convenient glove compartment and make the long trek past the Kum-and-Go to the pharmacy. The customers must show their identification and sign their names. But at least they can go through the regulation process in the comfort of their car, because, after all, pharmacies do have drive-through windows. Now that’s convenience.

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