‘Smurfers’ beware: Proposal punishes meth makers, not soccer moms

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The evidence that the Nanny-State spirit remains alive and well in Kentucky is the fact that too many politicians and law-enforcement lobbyists still favor restricting law-abiding citizens’ access to cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

We’re told that such heavy-handed government policies are needed because that ingredient is used by a handful of criminals to make the drug methamphetamine.

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These do-gooders not only want to deny soccer moms the option of running down to the local drug store on a Saturday night after one of the little ones suddenly came down the croup, they want to make her wait until Monday morning, call the doctor’s office, get an appointment, go sit in the office for who knows how long – just so she can purchase a box of Sudafed.

They lecture: There are dozens of other medicines that “work just as well” and don’t require a prescription. Apparently Kentuckians don’t think so.

Out of the 146 official over-the-counter medicines available for the sniffles, only 15 would actually be affected by a prescription-only policy. But here’s the rub: Kentuckians want and purchase those 15 products more – way more – than they do the other 131. Industry figures show that Kentuckians choose the 15 products containing pseudoephedrine 65 percent of the time.

In order to get one of the 15 pseudoephedrine products, patrons must register and show identification. The fact that consumers mostly pass over the 131 non-pseudoephedrine products that don’t require any registration and are willing to identify themselves and sign a registry to purchase them offers a stellar clue about the effectiveness of some products versus others.

Not only does no bureaucrat, lobbyist or politician have the right to deny law-abiding citizens the choice of purchasing these products, lawmakers have a responsibility to protect the exercise of such individual liberty while also giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to protect us from criminals.

That’s exactly what the policy contained in a proposal by Greenville Democratic Rep. Brent Yonts does.

Yonts’ bill (HB 80) would work with the existing tracking system used by your friendly neighborhood pharmacists to restrict purchases of pseudoephedrine products only to individuals previously convicted of crimes related to the production or use of methamphetamine.

Criminals, not law-abiding soccer moms, would be the only ones required to get a prescription.

Yonts proposes limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased without a prescription to 7.5 grams a month and 60 grams – or about 20 boxes – a year, thus making it easier for law-enforcement officers to deal with another objection to a common-sense, limited-government approach raised by pro-prescription forces: What about the “smurfers?” (And no, I’m not talking about somebody you and the kids would play with at Disney World.)

“Smurfing” is what meth makers do to get the ingredients needed for their concoctions. They – or others they pay – go from store to store, buying up as much Sudafed as they can get their hands on to use – not to treat colds but to cook drugs.

By limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine products that can be purchased while also restricting anyone convicted of a meth-related crime – “smurfing” included – clear-headed law enforcement officials believe the incentives will be strong to discourage the practice.

Maj. Tony King of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said the new policy would enhance the current – and very effective – real-time electronic tracking system already in place to effectively identify “smurfers.”

“By doing things like posting at pharmacy checkouts that 'smurfing' is itself a crime, and by the fact that anyone already caught will be restricted from purchasing pseudoephedrine, we believe it will discourage this activity,” King said.

Now, if we could only “discourage” the growth of the Nanny State in Kentucky.

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