The Corner

Speaking of Prohibition…

Here’s the Atlantic’s Megan Mcardle on the war against Sudafed (or at least the efforts to make it–and equivalent drugs–prescription-only):

 

[M]eth addiction is very bad, and the world would be a better place without it; and.home meth synthesis is obviously very dangerous.

 

But it is not actually so bad that we shouldn’t count the costs of suppression.  Which are considerable. After all, what we’re effectively talking about is making it impossible for people to unplug a stuffy nose without going to a doctor…Moreover, we don’t know that moving to a prescription-only model will actually permanently reduce amateur meth production.  Perhaps right now it makes more sense to get your meth out of state in the few places that have taken this step, but a nationwide placement of pseudoephedrine on the prescription schedule would simply encourage development of work-arounds like smurfing.  Limits might even make meth synthesis accidents more likely–there’s anecdotal evidence that the difficulty of obtaining pseudoephedrine has caused meth labs to shift to the “shake and bake” method, which uses less decongestant, but also has a nasty tendency to explode if the pressure in the container gets too high.  And while fires used to happen on the stove, which is mostly fireproof, now they explode in peoples’ hands, which aren’t. 

 

Mind you, counting the costs of suppression has not proved to be the drug warriors’ greatest talent so far…

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