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At Fox, Radley Balko watches the government make the meth "problem" even worse.


NEXT: Step Away from the Cold Medicine

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  1. Great article, Radley. However, there is one point that I disagree with:

    Sure enough, we now see in early-adopting states like Oklahoma that meth is as prevalent and available as ever. In fact, it’s more potent, which means it’s creating more addicts.

    I don’t think that greater potency makes a drug more addictive. It just means that the user can smoke less of the product to get the same effect. A good analogous would be hard liquor vs. beer. Beer has about 4% alcohol, liquor is 40%. Yet liquor is not more addictive or dangerous to the drinker, who is aware of the greater potency, and adjusts his dose accordingly (a shot of whisky versus a can of beer).

  2. Didn’t we see this before? In the past 12 years of drug wars, prices of drugs have collapsed. Based on government data, the street price of heroine fell by 81%, cocaine by 77% and meth by 62% (adjusted for inflation and drug content). Marijuana price has grown by 75%, but in the case of pot the government doesn’t take into account the fact that the concentration of THC in pot has nearly tripled in the past 12 years.

  3. Government is organized stupidity.

  4. There’s just one problem. Phenylephrine doesn’t work, and most in the pharmaceutical industry know it. Thanks to the new law and pressure from Congress, millions of customers have been wasting their money on a cold medication that’s no more effective than a placebo.

    And we are now seeing TV ads based on “The Sudafed you took this year didn’t relieve your symptoms, so switch to Claritin.”

    Personally, I’m promoting the rumor that this winter’s cold season is so much worse because instead of going quickly through the checkout line the contagious sufferors have to hang around the pharmacy and sneeze on everyone while they do useless paperwork.

  5. I picked up a cold travelling and tried DayQuil with phenylephrine. Totally worthless. Went to the drug store and registered with the Man to get pseudoephedrine. This transaction took five minutes and required that I tie up the pharmacy counter and the tech that mans it, rather than the minimum-wage cashier. The money the government spends on their dead-end drug war must be dwarfed by what they require the private sector to piss away on it.

  6. “Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.”

    – H. L. Mencken

  7. (On a side note, gauifenesin (Mucinex et al) is a better decongestant than pseudoephedrine. Try it sometime.)

    Comparing the meth saga to Prohibition is not a valid analogy, especially as presented by Mr. Balko. With alcohol, the legal and illegal can reasonably be contrasted as safe and unsafe. With meth, there is no clear distinction. Is Mexican meth supposed to be “safe” because it’s 90% pure, or “unsafe” because it’s highly potent? Is homecooked meth “safe” because it’s low-potency or “unsafe” because it’s impure (which is doubtful)?

    The ludicrous crackdown on precursor sales may be driving the spread of highly potent Mexican “ice”, but there are two distinct levels of government intervention at play: Regulation of precursor/pseudoephedrine sales, and the outlawing of methamphetamine in the first place. To rail against government drug regulation altogether brings one’s ideal vision to that of the “zero” level, where presumably highly pure methamphetamine is available to anyone who wants to buy it. Blaming goverment regulation of small-scale pseudoephedrine sales for the problems associated with high-potency meth is not only a non-sequitor, it is a flawed leap in logic.

    It is easy to reasonably compare marijuana prohibition with alcohol prohibition, and make the case for repeal of current marijuana laws. Marijuana, like alcohol, is a relatively mild intoxicant, where users generally have their fun with it and go to bed that night when they’re finished.

    That case cannot be so easily made for methamphetamine, which is a powerful central nervous stimulant. The human body has built-in mechanisms to prevent overconsumption of alcohol, commonly called “throwing up” and “passing out”. There is no such fail-safe to prevent a meth user from going on a week-long bender, ending in flat-out hallucinations and a complete inability to think rationally. To claim that making meth a legal drug would in any way decrease its abuse potential is silly, and unsupported by facts.

    Using marijuana daily is arguably not a bad thing. Using meth daily can very easily interfere with a person’s ability to function like a normal human being that eats and sleeps at regular intervals. They are similar only in their illegality and their propensity to get you “high”. And the fact that meth gets you high is not a valid argument for its legalization: Should, then, any prescription drug packing a buzz be available without a prescription? If so, why have prescription drugs at all? Wouldn’t we all just self-medicate responsibly?

    People can’t even take antibiotics responsibly, so I highly doubt they would use meth responsibly.

  8. Back in the day, 1970s, My friend’s dad was a truck driver for ABF. He drove rigs from Arkansas to Califorina and back. Some people called him Benny. I didn’t think that made any sense because that wasn’t his name. It was much later in life that I made the connection. For those who don’t know, benny was/is a nickname for a type of stimulant. It was legal speed, by prescription, and used by many truck drivers back then. Later, the government crackdown on doctors prescribing drugs, including valumn (sp?), mother’s little helper. Back then a youngin’ such as myself would have to steal one or two from your parents.

  9. Damn, I cut off half my post!!!!! lol.

    It seems that stimulant use back then was not destructive as it is today. I have friends that ruined their lives with meth/stimulants, my parents do not.

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