WASHINGTON-- Former White House Drug Policy Spokesman Robert Weiner and Jonathan Battaglia, a Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates, say that Congress and state legislatures should make methamphetamine's main ingredient, pseudoephedrine, prescription-only. In an op-ed in The State, South Carolina's largest newspaper, Weiner and Battaglia say Oregon has taken the step and in three years since 2006 enactment, cut the crisis in half. Mississippi and Missouri have recently taken similar steps.
Weiner and Battaglia point out that methamphetamine is a dangerous, illicit drug that 10.4 million Americans aged 12 or older have tried at least once.
"The best way to curtail meth use is to make sure the only people getting pseudoephedrine, a key component of meth found in most over-the-counter cold medications, are the people who really need it," Weiner and Battaglia say.
"It's time lawmakers make the problem a legislative priority."
The authors quote former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, who has called meth "one of the worst drug menaces ever to threaten America, associated with paranoia, stroke, heart attack, and permanent brain damage, leaving a trail of crime and death."
They note the support of Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske: "I am unbelievably supportive of making pseudoephedrine prescription-only," Kerlikowske responded to Weiner's question on the subject at the National Press Club May 12. Kerlikowske also told Congress in April that the experiment in Oregon has been "very encouraging" and "a huge victory."
The co-authors make the point that the current federal legislation, the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, does not go far enough with daily and monthly sales limits for pseudoephedrine. "The result was a confusing process for retailers and the arrests of law-abiding people with no other motive but getting rid of their cold or allergies. An Illinois man was arrested for going over the monthly legal limit because he had to buy enough Claritin-D for himself and his son. Arresting a man for treating his allergies is not the intent of this law."
Weiner and Battaglia conclude by saying, "South Carolina, other states, and Congress should follow suit" to Oregon and make pseudoephedrine prescription-only.
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