Twisted logic leads to loony meth legislation, false claims

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By Jim Waters

Some politicians prefer the sledgehammer-to-an-ant approach that requires law-abiding citizens to get a prescription from a doctor before being allowed to purchase medicine containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine.

In big-government’s twisted logic, imposing this requirement will prevent criminals from obtaining pseudoephedrine, an ingredient necessary for the manufacture of the dangerous drug methamphetamine.

Sure, and banning guns would keep them out of criminals’ hands. Yeah, right. Criminals don’t play by the rules. That’s why they are called criminals.

Every time state government tries to further control the drug problem with loony legislation, the more out-of-control it gets.

A decade ago, the state implemented the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system in response to the Oxycontin epidemic of the time. We now have regular hearings in Frankfort lamenting doctor shopping and “pill mills.”

Gov. Steve Beshear lamented over Kentucky’s prescription-drug crisis before a congressional panel last year: “In Kentucky alone, 82 people die every month from drug overdoses, a number that has now surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths in our state.”

Yet, and here’s that twisted logic again, Rep. Linda Belcher, D- Shepherdsville, and Sen. Tom Jensen, R- London, heavily support big-government solutions that would worsen what is already one of the nation’s most poisonous prescription-drug problems by … demanding prescriptions for yet another drug.

And they are doing it by offering misleading information.

For one, they claim Kentuckians overwhelmingly support this type of intervention.

Yet a new poll of 400 state voters by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association shows that Kentuckians oppose by a margin of 53 to 41 percent the sledgehammer attempts by politicians. The margins are even greater in the 2nd Congressional District (63 to 31 percent) and the 4th Congressional District (59 to 29 percent).

Not only do proponents on the wrong side of these numbers exaggerate the amount of pseudoephedrine sold that ends up in meth labs, they contradict their own information.

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In a recent op-ed, Congressman Hal Rogers claimed that “Kentucky State Police believe as much as 77% of pseudoephedrine sold is used to make meth.”

Dan Smoot of Rogers’ Operation UNITE, which endorses eroding Kentuckians’ individual liberties while using our own tax dollars to do it, told Louisville’s WKYT-TV recently: “Through studies we believe 70 percent of all pseudoephedrine products are diverted to make meth.”

However, the Kentucky State Police and state Legislative Research Commission issued recent reports claiming that only 16 percent and 2 percent, respectively, of pseudoephedrine sales are diverted for making meth in the commonwealth.

Both are a far cry from the 70-percent threshold. And both should give legislators pause about the credibility of going down a prescription-mandated path.

Further credibility issues arise with claims by Belcher and Jensen that their bills are magical compromises because they exempt pseudoephedrine that comes in the form of gel caps from prescription requirements.

They insinuate that this will somehow eliminate meth labs. But this is a lose-lose proposition:

  • Consumers lose because 97 percent of them choose the solid-dose form, which, unlike gel caps, provides extended 12-and-24-hour relief from ailments.
  • The truth loses. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration rule in 2010 that pseudoephedrine is “readily extractable” from gel caps for making meth.
  • Honest citizens lose. The current tracking system so effective in shutting down meth labs – around 1,100 last year – could no longer be used because of privacy laws. This would place PSE purchases in the slow, laborious KASPER system and make it nearly impossible to track criminals even as law-abiding citizens lose more freedom.

All of which offers more unsupportable assertions, including lawmakers who claim the mantle of conservatism while taking away their upright constituents’ freedoms and lifting the heat on criminals.

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