Reductio Creep Strikes Again

Frankly, I don't see anything exceptionally stupid about this law :

First, the state said you must make a special trip to the pharmacy counter to buy certain cold medicines. That was to curb production of methamphetamine.

Now, a St. Louis legislator wants you to do the same thing to buy an even more common household item — baking soda — because it's used to make crack cocaine.

Sales of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed, are strictly regulated in Missouri. Customers must show a photo ID when they buy the medicine. Pharmacists must log the names and addresses of buyers, including how much they buy. People under 18 may not buy the medicines.

The sponsor of the baking soda bill, Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, D-St. Louis, said the same approach was needed for baking soda because crack cocaine is often produced by dissolving powdered cocaine in a mixture of water and baking soda.

Note that I used the word "exceptionally." That is, this bill is really no stupider than the cold medicine law. In both cases, you're treating the vast majority of people who use a legal product legally like children, simply because a few people use it illegally. Still, supporters of the meth law are dismissive of this one.

"When you generate a list of people who use baking soda, it pretty much includes everyone. It's a common household item," said Tom Murphy, a special agent with the St. Louis division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

And how is that different from cold and allergy medication? I'd wager that a pretty high percentage of American households have those, too. No, Sudafed doesn't dissolve the odors in your refrigerator (then again, neither does baking soda). But should we really subject the citizens of Missouri to the scourge of crack cocaine if simply asking them to take the time to sign a registry can eliminate it forever, just like meth? That's not too much to ask, is it?

Unlike Pete Guither (hat tip), I actually think drug policy reformers should embrace this bill. In fact, I think they should urge the Missouri legislature to pass it. Better yet, let's pressure Armand Hammer to stop its shameless crack profiteering, and put out a substitute baking soda that can't be used by crack pushers. It needn't be effective as a baking additive. In fact, it can be completely useless. The only important thing is that it can't be turned into crack.

Perhaps once we're required to sign notebooks to purchase everything from baking soda to computer duster people will begin to see how silly all of this really is.

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  • ||

    people will begin to see how silly all of this really is.

    Radley, Radley, Radley. *shaking head*

  • Mike Laursen||

    I am very disappointed in the California legislature for not thinking of this first. We're slipping.

  • ||

    Have to agree with Warty here. You're giving the general populace too much credit if you think they'd ever see how ridiculous these types of laws are. They'd whine about how dumb it is for about 2 weeks and then they'd line up at the customer service desk at the supermarket to buy their baking soda and rationalize it by saying how good it is for "the children" (tm).

  • WetBlanket||

    I just hope to god that water is not in any way used in the manufacture or abuse of illegal drugs.

  • WetBlanket||

    Never mind.

  • ||

    the same approach was needed for baking soda because crack cocaine is often produced by dissolving powdered cocaine in a mixture of water and baking soda.

    Ingredients for crack recipe:

    1. Water
    2. Baking soda
    3. Cocaine

    Obviously, if we make it really hard to get baking soda legally, we'll make it impossible to use this recipe.

  • Ron Hardin||

    If you mix baking soda and vinegar, you get bathtub boat fuel.

  • Bee||

    First they came for my semi-sweet morsels, and I didn't say anything....

    Oh, can't stop laughing.

  • ||

    Plus, kids who see an open box of white powder in the fridge are obviously going to get the message that snorting cocaine is fun and safe. We should force Arm & Hammer to dye their product blue.

  • ||

    If you mix baking soda and santorum, you get a brown lumpy mess. Which isn't much worse than what you had to begin with, but...

  • ||

    For God's sake, Radley. This isn't just about drugs. It is about protecting our nation from the terrorists. Don't you realize that if someone were to get enough baking soda and vinegar together they could create a fake volcano with enough destructive power to wipe out the Eastern Seaboard!

  • ||

    A little bit off-topic, but I'm watching The News Hour on PBS, and they just announced that Jim Lehrer isn't on because he's serving jury duty.

    How the hell did he get past juror selection?

  • ||

    The sponsor of the baking soda bill, Rep. Talibdin El-Amin

    Sounds like a dirty Islamist to me! Putting out Fatwahs on my Arm & Hammer. It's unAmerican!

    /one man attempt to turn Reason into FrontPage Magazine

  • ||

    Ultimately, I think the chemistry experts that run this country will realize that just about everything they want to ban is made up of something else. ...if they really want to be proactive, 'cause with designer drug, etc., you never know what you might want to ban tomorrow, maybe they should just track everything each of us buys.

    We have the technology! ...So why not do it?

  • ||

    Obviously, if we make it really hard to get baking soda legally, we'll make it impossible to use this recipe.

    We could always just limit the legal availability of water. Given the popularity of baking soda, I think that the two proposals are about equally feasible or useful in fighting the drug war.

    Why don't we make people register whenever they buy a frying pan (which can be used to cook crack)? A stove? How about just logging onto a system to request permission to use the stove? Damn, there's that "reductio" crap again.

  • ||

    Funny; I came here to say exactly the same thing Warty did.

    You simply cannot shame drug warriors into recanting. It doesn't matter how stupid or unjustified it is, whatever 'it' may be. Nothing is too idiotic for there not to be a drug warrior, somewhere, who will assert it as fact.

  • John Kunze||

    WetBlanket:
    I just hope to god that water is not in any way used in the manufacture or abuse of illegal drugs.

    Wikipedia:
    NaHCO3 [baking soda]is mainly prepared by the Solvay process, which entails the reaction of sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in water.

  • ||

    Radley is just a shill for Arm and Hammer...

  • ||

    Maybe a better idea would be to give crackheads an insanely long mandatory sentence for posession of a small amount of crack.

    Or drug test everyone and make a positive for crack a capital case.

    Or just make it so you cant buy baking soda with food stamps

  • thoreau||

    Rep. Talibdin El-Amin

    < Michelle Malkin>
    If we give up our baking soda then the terrorists will have won!
    < /Michelle Malkin>

  • ||

    I wonder if you could make a crack/vinegar volcano.

  • ||

    Crimethink: He still has to report so he can be dismissed.

  • ||

    I'll go along with this bill only after they put bibles behind the counter, and require people to submit ID and sign for one. Because pot heads use the pages to roll marijuana cigarettes or "joints".

  • ||

    Honest Officer, I only use the Baking Soda to brush my teeth. (and btw, that and using a Sonicare ™ gives my dental hygienist very little to do.)

  • MattXIV||

    This is funny, because you can use ANY base to neutralize the anion of the salt of cocaine and obtain the free base. Baking soda is just used because it is cheap, easy to make fine pH adjustments with because it's not that strong, readily available, and doesn't burn your skin on contact. There are several dozen other things you can buy at a grocery store that would work just about as well and if push comes to shove, you could burn some leaves and use the hydroxides/oxides/carbonates in the resulting ashes.

    You could also reverse the process that was probably used to get the cocaine out in the first place and extract an aqueous solution of it with a non-polar solvent, although it isn't very efficient without neutralizing the anion. There are only a few of these at your average grocery store, but the gas station and hardware store have plenty more.

    If you were really crazy for crack, you could probably even use vacuum distillation to separate the acid from the base in the salt and that doesn't take any extra chemicals at all.

    So I have to disagree with Radley. This is a lot stupider than the pseudoephedrine crap in that it requires you to be incapable of passing HS (and maybe middle school) chem or have no actual knowledge of what the drug in question consists of to think it would work.

  • ||

    The reasonable alternative legislation would be a bill that requires cocaine to be sold dissolved in vinegar.

  • ||

    Let's just stop fucking around. You all know what we really need to do. This piece-meal bullshit has got to stop.

    I propose that the government enact legislation forbidding you from leaving your home without the express permission of your local block captain. When attempting to leave your gated block, you are required to explain the purpose of your trip and why it is necessary. The block captain will then determine whether or not you are allowed to leave. This way, we can always make sure you really need to do whatever you're doing. This is America, why stop at mother fucking baking soda?

  • ||

    I have one more suggestion: All people with names like "Rep. Talibdin El-Amin" (you know what I'm talking about) should have to provide ID, be fingerprinted, and submit to a body cavity search before buying gasoline. Because that can be used to make bombs, and we all know who likes to make bombs. Hell, his name is a hell of a lot closer to "Taliban" than my kitchen is to a crack lab.

    Here's an idea for the Libertarian party: How about you take all the money you're going to flush away on a pointless presidential campaign for some no name who will win 0 electoral votes, and instead spend it on tv commercials pointing out the stupidity of laws like this? Then maybe you could run some on eminent domain, etc. Pretty soon you'd probably have a lot of people really interested in libertarianism. Just a thought.

  • ||

    They'll have to pry my biscuits out of my cold dead fingers.

  • Crackhead||

    You can also make rock cocaine by pouring cocaine powder into ammonia. I don't know anything about this, but the ammonia method has a bad a taste if you're in a hurry to smoke.

  • ||

    When did Armand Hammer get out bed with the Russian Communists, and into the sack with the tweakers?

  • highnumber||

    Here's an idea for the Libertarian party: How about you take all the money you're going to flush away on a pointless presidential campaign for some no name who will win 0 electoral votes, and instead spend it on tv commercials pointing out the stupidity of laws like this? Then maybe you could run some on eminent domain, etc. Pretty soon you'd probably have a lot of people really interested in libertarianism. Just a thought.

    Hey, that's maybe a good idea.

  • ||

    What the fuck does this idiot propose to do with the Arm & Hammer distribution facility in Harrisonville?

  • Guy Montag||

    Radley, you still have not told us what Army you were in. Soviet? Chinese? french?

  • severin||

    Is it still April fools?

  • severin||

    I can here the crack manufactures conversations now:
    "Hey man I just smuggled all of this cocaine into the country from Columbia. Now for the hard part, getting my hands on the baking soda."

  • ||

    Since baking soda is used in cooking, I think this bill could run into the buzz saw of pissed off baking devotees.

    What, this idiot wants to get rid of home-baked gingerbread?!

  • ||

    If baking is outlawed, only outlaws will be baked.

  • ||

    So how many boxes of baking soda does it take to get flagged for a raid?

  • thoreau||

    If baking is outlawed, only outlaws will be baked.

    We have a winner!

  • ||

    Better yet, let's pressure Armand Hammer to stop its shameless crack profiteering, and put out a substitute baking soda that can't be used by crack pushers.

    Great Ceaser's ghost! Has Hammer risen from the dead?

  • ||

    If this becomes a law, all it will do is make it so that coke smugglers become crack smugglers so they can separate them out later. Street price of baking soda will go through the roof.

  • ||

    We have a winner!

    Aw, shucks

  • ||

    Consider the immense amount of paperwork that the Dope Enforcers will have to wade through!

    OTOH, they won't have to worry about ninja raids on the wrong house anymore, when EVERY home will be on the Suspects List . . .

  • ||

    Can I use organic soy flour instead of baking soda?

    But on the serious tip, why not use baking power instead of baking soda? Baking power is just baking soda mixed with salt as an activation agent (it works slower than vinegar, but the results are the same, to make bubbles).

  • Danger Mouse||

    That's Arm & Hammer. :-)

  • ||

    So I have to disagree with Radley. This is a lot stupider than the pseudoephedrine crap in that it requires you to be incapable of passing HS (and maybe middle school) chem or have no actual knowledge of what the drug in question consists of to think it would work.

    MattXIV, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head, which is why I wouldn't be at all surprised not only to see it passed in that dumb rep's state, but others as well. Of course, this whole thread reminds me of that experiment where the average jamoke on the street was asked to sign a petition outlawing "hydrogen dioxide."

    When I worked as state legislative aide in college, the bills that weren't handed to our idiot politicians directly by lobbyists (politicians love lobbyist-sponsored legislation mostly because it prevents them from having to think, not just partisan concerns), were usually thought up on the whim by some brain-dead politician that was pissed about some little indiscretion they witnessed that inconvenienced them at the time (like people not turning on lights when there's a heavy rain storm or some such).

    I hate to sound fatalistic, but with the lack of science, math and statistical training in this country among the moron politicians, bubble-headed journalists, and general population that gets its "news" and information from TV anchors, I expect to see more and more of this typed of legislation as we inevitably race to the cognitive bottom.

  • LarryA||

    Baking soda doesn't keep your refrigerator fresh? Damn.

    How the hell did he (Jim Lehrer) get past juror selection?

    "Jury duty" includes the days you sit around before there's a chance to be eliminated.

    Which is where I'll be next week. In municipal court, so it won't even be interesting.

  • isonomist||

    crimethink sez:

    Ingredients for crack recipe:
    1. Water
    2. Baking soda
    3. Cocaine



    Are you implying that next thing, they'll ban water? I hear that sunlight is useful for growing marijuana...

  • ||

    They'll hve to pry my arm and hammer out of my cold, dead refrigerator. Ummm... maybe just my refrigerator.

  • Sasha||

    Do you people know that you can actually get addicted to cold medicine with ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine? This is not a joke!

  • ||

    Sasha,

    You can also get addicted to HCFS, and Noam Chomsky ashes. That's a scary thought!

  • ||

    Too early in the morning... HCFS = HFCS

  • ||

    Lucky for us, we live in home of the free and the brave.

  • Willtel||

    The disturbing thing about these laws is that the meth issue in this country is easy to correct. Much like quaaludes in the 70s the chemical compounds used in meth (methamphetamine and pseudo-methamphetamine) are extremely difficult to manufacture and are only made in a few factories around the world, if we stopped its production meth would disappear from our streets. However the pharmaceutical companies will not allow the government to step in and stem its production. Like so many other things it comes down to money. Watch the PBS Fronline on meth for more info, prepare to be frustrated if you know anyone who had has their life destroyed by the drug.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/view/

  • ||

    lets regulate the purchases of spoons too since they are used to cook some drugs...

  • ||

    We could always just limit the legal availability of water.

    Yeah, and you just know the suction-toilet companies will be lobbying like crazy for that.

  • ||

  • ||

    Willtel, since production of these key components is apparently globalized, exactly how does the US government go about stopping it?

  • ||

    However the pharmaceutical companies will not allow the government to step in and stem its production.

    Hell, I don't blame them. Why should people who manufacture an otherwise legal product be regulated to death because a small segment of miscreants in the general population find a derivative use for the product other than what the manufacturer intended? Same sort of twisted logic that liberal statists and the NAACP used to try to make gun manufacturers liable for the criminal actions of others.

    What happens if Mr. Dopey-on-the-street discovers the derivative recreational use of other products? Should we just close down every factory in the world on the possibility that some moron sometime, somewhere, just might do something with a product other than was originally intended?

    While we're at at it, in the age of cheaply available Internet services, and cable and satellite television and radio programming (even for people on public assistance, fixed incomes, and welfare), PBS is a culturally elitist bureaucratic taxpayer-bloodsucker that needs to be disbanded immediately. If PBS and its programming can't make it in the market place against Discovery, History Channel, BET, etc. let the damned thing die ...

  • ||

    I hear that sunlight is useful for growing marijuana...

    Well, Mr Burns can fix that problem.

  • ||

    Willtel, I, too, become frustrated when meth kicks in people's doors and destroys their lives.

  • ||

    You guys have become a bunch of Chicken Littles.

    Nobody is going to ban or restrict sales of baking soda. Good Lord.

  • ||

    That giant sucking sound you just heard was all of our good-paying cooking jobs being exported to Mexico.

  • ||

    I'm with the commenter who suggested urinalysis for everyone. Let's just quit fucking around and go for some real totalitarianism. People want to end drug use? Well, this is about the only way to even get close. Line up and whip it out (or squat down) America. This is what you asked for and what you deserve.

  • ||

    I'm with the commenter who suggested urinalysis for everyone. Let's just quit fucking around and go for some real totalitarianism. People want to end drug use? Well, this is about the only way to even get close. Line up and whip it out (or squat down) America. This is what you asked for and what you deserve.

    I dunno, maybe we collectively want to end/reduce drug use without resorting to totalitarianism?

  • ||

    Better yet, we need to get rid of paper currency so that our leaders can effectively and efficiently screen all purchases for things like large amounts of baking soda, cough meds etc. It'll save the hassle of having to update lists etc and will eliminate the black market (although they'll have to aggresively crack down on the barter systems that will arise). Purchases of over three boxes of baking soda at a time should trigger a warrant and swat raid. That way, those of us with nothing to hide can rest assured that our leaders have all of the available means to protect us. Hey, as a further measure our leaders could require that our "debit cards" are implanted on the back of our hands, along with our social security information and the sign of the beast. And then we could easily block certain people from purchasing ho hos and other things because at their last mandated check up their BMI was too high while allowing those of us who eat our ho hos responsibly to continue to enjoy them at a government determined level of moderation.

    ;)

  • ||

    Hooked- My point is that you can't end drug use without resorting to totalitarianism. For a guy so devoted to innuendo, you certainly seem to have trouble with rhetorical hyperbole.

  • Guy Montag||

    Are you implying that next thing, they'll ban water? I hear that sunlight is useful for growing marijuana...

    Today, water is saturated with dihydrogen monoxide and needs to be regulated even more. Dihydrogen monoxide is also produced by most hybrid vehicles, even both of mine, and is increasing dihydrogen monoxide saturation of underground aquifers.

  • Craig||

    Plain lye ("Red Devil") is hard to buy these days thanks to its use in crystal meth.

  • Guy Montag||

    I'm with the commenter who suggested urinalysis for everyone. Let's just quit fucking around and go for some real totalitarianism. People want to end drug use? Well, this is about the only way to even get close. Line up and whip it out (or squat down) America. This is what you asked for and what you deserve.

    If they can't prevent illegal drug use in prisons (to include tobacco) then how the hell does anybody expect to prevent it on the street?

  • ||

    Nobody is going to ban or restrict sales of baking soda. Good Lord.

    That's what they said about foie gras and cooking oil, and look where that got us.

    maybe we collectively want to end/reduce drug use without resorting to totalitarianism?

    If the last 50 years have taught us anything, surely its taught us that you can't do one without the other.

  • ||

    This is the same legislative body that once proposed a law requiring all riders of motorcycles to wear seatbelts.

    Never thought I'd say this, but maybe I need to move across the state line to Kansas, where all I need to worry about is Fred Phelps.

  • GILMORE||

    A little bit off-topic, but I'm watching The News Hour on PBS, and they just announced that Jim Lehrer isn't on because he's serving jury duty.

    How the hell did he get past juror selection?


    Thats funny. I saw that too, yesterday, and asked Suarez (well, the screen)... "What? Next time it will be like, 'Hi, I'm Ray Suarez - Jim Leher's cat is sick"

    But your point about jury selection... what DOESNT JL know everything about? I dont see how he could get picked. But anybody CAN get called, and he was probably just dealing with the selection/vetting process, which takes all day in NYC courts. Trust me, I've been there. Those jury selection rooms, the slimy court cops (not to mention your peers in the room) genuinely give you a taste of the horrors of the legal system.

  • MattXIV||

    Willtel,

    Sorry, but you don't seem to grasp the synthetic chemistry of amphetamines. The precursor used to produce meth (which is short for methamphetamine)are pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. They can be produced synthetically but are also produced by plants of the Ephedra genus (I don't know which is the norm for pharmaceutical production). Both compounds are medicinally useful and there are still many indications where they are the prefered treatment. Banding pharmmceutical production of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine would do about as much to stop meth production as banning pharmaceutical production of morphine would do for heroin, namely, a lot of nothing, since it can simply be grown specifically for illicit production of amphetamines, including meth.

  • GILMORE||

    Matt XiV =

    You may have a technical point to make, but the fact is, there are very few large scale processors of pseudoephidrine, and tracking them rigourousy would immediately force meth makers to find alternative sources, which at the least would probably drive cost of meth production so high that they'd go back to smuggling coke :)

    Not that i recommend that. I saw the Frontline thing dude mentions above, and it was pretty simple = without access to these large processors of the chemical, the meth industry would die. Yes, there would be workarounds, but none that provide the bang per buck to really make it a viable market.

    Never tried meth. As my friend once said, 'you're tweaked enough as it is.' Probably explains why i so enjoy Anti-Meth (aka Bourbon)

  • Igatius Froobledimp||

    Let's remember that this is one 'tarded legislator in one hick state. This has no chance of passing. In St. Louis, Talibdin El-Amin is forever going to be known as the baking soda guy.

  • ||

    You obviously don't live in a state with a meth problem.

  • ||

    Clearly the solution is to ban chemical reactions.

    Without the ability to cause chemicals to do stuff when mixed together, this would all be a moot point.

  • ||

    Andrew, how many tweakers have you run into in, say, the past week?

  • MattXIV||

    GILMORE,

    I doubt it. It's a simple to get the ephedrine out and the plant itself contains pharmacologically active amounts of it without refinement (and is used in TCM 'cause of it). It would be less difficult than producing heroin, which involves a low-per plant yield of morphine, and requires acetic anhydride, which is pretty nasty (and regulated) stuff and hard to make without specialized equipment. There are reports of it being used in clandestine meth manufacture already http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=16707238. If it's viable to cladestinely produce heroin from poppies, there is no way that it wouldn't be to make meth from Ephedra.

  • ||

    My point is that you can't end drug use without resorting to totalitarianism.

    Actually, you can't end drug use even if you resort to totalitarianism. See: Prisons; Military.

  • ||

    tchiers- See, the problem with prisons and the military is that the totalitarianism doesn't go far enough.

    Andrew- Actually, I do. And I know several on the local narc guys. They'll be the first to tell you that since cold medicine was moved behind the counter, most of the production has moved to Mexico. Use remains unchanged.

    So, if you wanted to try using logic and argumentation, rather than sarcastic, empty-headed smarm, I'd recommend starting with that issue.

  • ||

    You obviously don't live in a state with a meth problem.



    Show me a state that does have one. The meth "epidemic" is just a political/media fabrication.

  • ||

    "...most of the production has moved to Mexico."

    Do I even have to say it?

  • Robert||

    Has CMEEA affected availability of ephedra tea, or does it apply only to drugs and chemicals? Availability as a dietary supplement is awaiting Sup. Ct. review.

    They stopped making Red Devil lye, not because of any law against it, but the company thought it impolitic under current conditions.

  • Jason||

    Making baking soda illegal is going to stop the manufacture of crack just like making cocaine illegal did. Let's get our priorities straight, people.

  • allan||

    What a bunch of cynics.

    Thank you all, one great morning read...

    If we can't keep baking soda out of our prisons how do we expect to keep it out of our schools?

  • allan||

    It didn't take long to come up with the next dangerous substance to be tackled by law enforcement:

    US WA: Police bust tomato grow operation in Pullman apartment.

    Thanks Pete!

  • Walks-in-Storms||

    I can make explosives from urine. I'll let you figure out where that takes us - in Missouri, anyway.

  • ||

    I'm Ph.D chemist. I'm very impressed with most of the bloogs; they're very good. I must say that this bogus bill is typical of an ignorant politician like so many in Congress. Just about as dumb as Algore's mankind caused Global Warming!

  • ||

    Doesn't it seem that someone savvy enough to be able to acquire cocaine would not have much of a problem getting their hands on baking soda, regardless of restrictions or lists?

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