Local and state legislators have a long and storied history of overreacting to trends in drug consumption by quickly drafting and passing regulations and criminal laws meant to hinder access to illicit consumer goods. Historically, these laws — many of which transcend simply outlawing the sale and possession of illicit substances — have fueled the spread of black markets, incentivized the creation of dangerous drug substitutes, induced headaches for above-board businesses, and raised questions about Constitutional rights. Many of them make federal drug laws seem downright soft and/or reasonable.
The ban on mixing energy and alcohol drinks that started in Michigan, moved to Washington state, and then became federal law is a good example of a disproportionate legislative response to a problem that's not nearly as severe or widespread as fearmongers claim. Unfortunately, it's just one silly law of many codified in criminal statutes across the country. This list doesn't cover every legislative transgression committed in the name of protecting us from ourselves, but it does highlight some of the most clueless, backward, and meddlesome drug laws in these United States.
5.) In Texas, it's illegal to
buy or sell chemistry equipment without the state's
In 1989, the Texas legislature amended its controlled substance statute to require anyone who "sells, transfers, furnishes, or purchases certain precursor chemicals or certain laboratory apparatus to be regulated by [the Department of Public Safety]."
This new regulatory burden on buyers and sellers of basic chemistry equipment (in a state that brags about not over-regulating) was meant to halt the production of methamphetamines. But the banned substances list didn't stop at chemicals used in meth.
For instance: One of the "precursor substances" that you can't buy or sell without the state's permission is Diethyl malonate, a chemical that "occurs naturally in grapes and strawberries as a colourless liquid with an apple-like odour," and that is used to make perfume, artificial flavoring for candy, and vitamin B supplements. But because Diethyl malonate was once popular for use in sleeping pills, and can — like alcohol, aspirin, and water — kill you if you take too much of it, you can't buy it or sell it without a license.
In fact, most of the "precursor chemicals" that DPS regulates have been out of style for years. Ergotamine isn't often used to treat migraines anymore, much less make LSD. Piperidine was placed on the list due to its popularity in the 70s and 80s as an ingredient in PCP.
Even more egregious is the inclusion of basic glassware used in chemistry and homelabs, items like "a flask heater...an Erlenmeyer, two-neck, or single-neck flask...a round-bottom, Florence, thermometer, or filtering flask." These are all basic items in any home, middle school, or high school chemistry lab, yet buying them in the state of Texas requires you to enter your name into a government database; and selling those items means you have to open your records and your facilities to government inspections.
As for stopping the production and consumption of illicit substances? Forget about it. You can buy Mexico meth for cheap in Texas, or you can make it at home using the incredibly volatile (and expensive to taxpayers) shake-and-bake method; no high tech chemistry equipment required.