The Meth Act Does Not Belong in the Patriot Act

The House-passed version of the Patriot Act renewal legislation includes the Meth Act. The New York Times reports:

Under the proposal, Sudafed and similar medicines would have to be under lock and key in stores. Buyers would have to sign a sheet and show a driver's license. Purchases would be limited to one box a day and three boxes a month.

This has nothing to do with terrorism. Poor people and the elderly who don't drive won't have driver's licenses to show. Neither will undocumented residents.

Mike Krause of Colorado's Independence Institute reported:

Scott Burns, Deputy Director of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently contradicted the “epidemic” rhetoric, telling a Congressional sub-committee that America’s estimated 1.5 million methamphetamine users make up only 8% of the country’s estimated 19 million drug users.

Check out the New York Time's John Tierney on the meth myth and Reason's Jacob Sullum here and in Speed Bumps at the Pharmacy. Also, Radly Balko explains why restricting cold pills won't curb meth use.

There is no crisis. Cold pills do not equate to terrorism. Tell your senators to just say no to the meth act.

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    Oh, christ. What about those of us with chronic sinusitis, who consume Sudafed (the non-drying stuff, thanks) like it's candy?

    Those Drug Warriors are so good at slipping their dirt into larger pieces of legislation. (See: Sen. Joe Biden slipping the RAVE Act into the Amber Alert bill a few years ago, and Rep. Mark Souder (also the culprit here this time) slipping his financial aid ban for drug offenders into the 1998 Higher Education Act Amendments). At least we've got them to the point where they can't debate and pass this garbage on the merits of the drug provisions themselves - they have to go about it in a covert way. IMO, that really says something about the progress the reform movement is making. We're really starting to win the public opinion battle. Now if we can only get a few of these b*stards un-elected, maybe legislators will start to get the message!

    Re: The Meth Act Does Not Belong in the Patriot A (none / 0) (#3)
    by SeeEmDee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:02 PM EST
    Think of it this way, gents: A large part of the reason why the War on Some Drugs has trundled along and crushed so many under it's treads is that, despite the millions whose lives it has destroyed, those millions are still a small minority compared to the rest of the population. This, despite the fact that it has cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and trashed many rights once thought inviolable. Because so long as the effect was not felt by the average person in an immediately painful way, they were not even aware of how much the DrugWar gouges them. That's about to change. The old saying of "Misery loves company." is about to become painfully true. When Joe Sixpack comes down with a raging case of post-nasal drip, he's going to find out what a personal cost this latest turn of the DrugWar screw will have...and it won't hurt to remind these indignant cold sufferers just who was a legislative accessory in exacerbating their pain.

    Re: The Meth Act Does Not Belong in the Patriot A (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:02 PM EST
    SeeEmDee, Maybe there is a silver lining in the cloud after all is said and done. I hope so. At the same time I wonder... AS the old saying goes "you don't know what you've got, till it's gone" I'm trying to think of an example of a society that managed to recover it's freedoms and rights after giving them up... Can you think of one?

    It's a bad piece of legislation and the proposed amendment make it even worse. I posted a summary of some of the stranger proposed provisions at my blog. The war on "terror" is not worth the loss of our valued freedoms.

    Re: The Meth Act Does Not Belong in the Patriot A (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:02 PM EST
    I fully agree that "The Meth Act Does Not Belong in the Patriot Act" and that it has nothing to do with terrorism. As important as it is to rebel against including these kinds of things in the act, arguing against any inclusions to the act is only fighting symptoms, not fighting the disease. In fact, nothing belongs in the "Patriot Act", and that the act itself should not exist, and has no place in a free society. The only way it can be supported is the same way it was created, by the selling and continual fanning of the fear of terrorism to justify it. Until this fear is addressed, and enough people, including and most especially legislators, begin on a personal level in their own lives to realize that the fear is a sham and phantom fear, the disease cannot be routed. Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of the American Empire. Scare Tactics: The politics of fear and persuasion in America today, and why Americans consistently fear the wrong things:
    What are the odds that you will die in a terrorist attack? Answer: Minuscule. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the odds are about 1 in 88,000. The odds of dying from falling off a ladder are 1 in 10,010. Even in 2001, automobile crashes killed 15 times more Americans than terrorism. ... It seems that scientists have estimated that there is a 1 in six million chance that an animal like the pig could mutate and evolve into a creature that could fly. (And many think the missing dinosaurs accomplished exactly that, and are now still with us as birds.) Coincidentally, that is the exact same odds you have of dying at the hands of the terrorists that pose such a grave and imminent threat to America, even if they do pull off another 9-11 scale attack…Yup… “when pigs fly.”

    Re: The Meth Act Does Not Belong in the Patriot A (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:02 PM EST
    this is quickly becoming "transportation act II", without the transportation. a dumping ground for every ill considered piece of legislation, that the sponsors know wouldn't pass if subject to actual scrutiny in the clear light of day. gee, i'm shocked. i'm surprised some enterprising republican hasn't slipped in a provision eliminating all federal taxes on corporations. of course, it's early yet.

    I have absolutely nothing good to say about the Patriot Act or the Great Patriotic War on Drugs. Fifteen years ago, if I'd been told that a presidential fiat would create a new agency called Homeland Security with a name pulled right out of the Soviet catalog, or that marijuana possession was still a criminal offense I wouldn't have believed it. And even if we are to be saddled with this insane act, it's further insanity that it contains the Sudafed restrictions. But it doesn't follow that the Meth epidemic is a hysterical media creation. I've done extensive personal research (very personal research) into most of the headliner drugs of the last 20 years, powder and crack coke, marijuana, alcohol. I've since retired as an active researcher and I never was addicted to Meth, but contact with other addicts, recovering and practicing, has convinced me that this drug is singularly evil, in it's personal and societal effects. Already marginal rural communities, like the one where I grew up, are experiencing significant property crimes for the first time in their history, and local authorities throughout rural America unanymously blame meth. I'm not very impressed by studies done on the phone that show that meth use is "only 19%", or quotes from experts (???) like John Tierney. Showing your license to buy Sudafed seems like a very minor inconvenience, I had to do the same thing to buy a gallon of alcohol at a pharmacy. If it only inhibits local manufacture, even that would be a benefit, this is one of the cases where providing jobs for the local economy isn't beneficial. The American Progressive movement has enough problems and we need to choose our battles carefully, this isn't one we should choose.

    Re: The Meth Act Does Not Belong in the Patriot A (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:03 PM EST
    Maybe the progressive movement wants to pass on this one, but the civil liberties movement should not. Photo ID required to buy a common cold remedy? Pretty soon, you'll be required to have a photo ID to take a piss. It's bad enough when I run out to buy a pack of smokes and forget to bring my ID, to have to deal with the same hassle when you've got a nasty headcold and need some Sudafed would send me over the edge. We are nannied by the state enough already. No mas.

    Just to add to the disgust: make no mistake about it, the nimrods who are pushing all of this authoritarian crap from the Patriot Act, to violating the civil rights of those suspected of "terrorism" make little distinction between the WoUSD and the need to find and torture terrorists. You think I joke or am tin-foil hattting this? Nope. I heard with my own ears some idiot congressman from Florida justifying the anti-terror provisions of the Patriot Act in the cause of transportation, he actually mentioned catching more meth dealers as a justification for the Patriot Act police state (something that air travelers thinking about flying with a small stash have learned not to do since 9/11, since arrests for this at a security checkpoint are seen as a side-benefit to law enforcement actions against "terra" and justifiying such policing on their own. A lot of these pols still think most people will give them a pass if they're fighting meth (i.e. imprisoning poor people of color and other powerless surplus populations) just as if they were fighting Osama Bin Laden, his second in command de jour, Fidel, Saddam, Chavez, Morales, Insurgents, Rejectionists, Unlawful Combatants, Enemy Alients or any of the other sundry enemies of the Homeland.

    Well, while the meth/sudafed legislation is officially the rider, I know that the Patriot Act is the passenger. They were hoping to get the unpopular Patriot Act past the furor about the illegal spying for political purposes by adding the wildly popular "anti meth" bill. Even proponents acknowledged that cutting down access to one key ingredient wouldn't do much to the supply of meth available. The promise was that it would get rid of the smaller labs that were such a hazard to local communities. Well, now that the attempt to nationalize restrictions failed to drag the Patriot Act into effect, people in Oregon can get their ingredients from other states that didn't enact statewide restrictions on access to Sudafed and similar cold medicines. And many of them are stockpiling these ingredients to compete against the superlabs. BTW, Nyquil still contains pseudoephedrine and is still not restricted. Less than a decade ago Nyquil was 40 proof alcohol and available to teens. They corrected this problem with pseudoephedrine. You can still use Nyquil to make meth. You just can't make it smokeable. Which version of meth is more potent: smokeable or nonsmokeable? Which is more easily abused? 20 years ago smoked meth was nonexistent. Now the nonsmoked meth is nonexistent - except in the military or for narcolepsy. See how the War on Drugs has made drug use safer for your teens?

    Well, here we go. In VA they collect information from your driver's license and place it in a computer for the Pharmacy Board to review. I guess the storm-troopers will be at me door since I too have chronic sinus issues. My pharmacist is helping me out by pointing out the decongestant/expectorants that don't require the giving up of personal information. This reminds me of the Jewish ghettos in that people are marked, identified and attacked on some level. I just can't believe those who are so naive and in power think that this will curb anything. The meth labs will go on just as the cocoa fields do in S.A. God Bless America and the oh so worthwhile Patriot Act. What a pile! I bet Thom Jefferson and his buddies are doing more than just rolling over in their graves!