One Box of Sudafed Over the Line: Florida Woman Arrested for Trying to Relieve Allergy Symptoms


While shopping with her husband in Quincy, Florida, on July 19, 2010, Mickey Goodson stopped by a Winn-Dixie drugstore to pick up some allergy pills. The pharmacist on duty suggested she buy two boxes of Sudafed, which she did. Thus began Goodson's entanglement with the criminal justice system, which featured searches of her car and home, along with drug charges that were not dropped until September 2011.

According to a lawsuit that Goodson filed earlier this month, she and her husband were accosted by Gadsden County sheriff's deputies as they left the pharmacy. The deputies confiscated the Sudafed, searched the couple's car, and instructed Goodson and her husband to follow them to the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office. At the office Deputy William Buckhalt asked Goodson and her husband if he could search their home, presumably to verify that they were not using Sudafed to make methamphetamine. Not without a warrant, they said. "Oh, I'll get a search warrant," Buckhalt replied, according to Goodson's complaint.

And he did get a warrant, although a judge eventually decided that it was invalid because Buckhalt had withheld crucial information from the magistrate who approved it. As deputies served the warrant later that day, according to the lawsuit, one of them asked Goodson, "What have you gotten rid of?" To which Goodson replied, "I don't know what you are talking about!" According to Goodson's complaint, she was handcuffed on her front porch and charged with "possession of a controlled substance." Possessing pseudoephedrine is a crime in Florida if you buy more than the legal limit or plan to make methamphetamine with it.

The evidence of such a scheme apparently was limited to the amount of pseudoephedrine that Goodson bought. Two packages of 24-hour Sudafed, for example, contain 4.8 grams of pseudoephedrine, which is 1.2 grams more than the daily limit imposed by Florida law. Since January 2011, such purchases have been automatically blocked by a statewide database. At the time of Goodson's shopping trip, pharmacists were only required to keep written logs of pseudoephedrine sales. Still, if Goodson broke the law by buying more than 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine in one day, Winn-Dixie broke the law by selling it to her. The immediate arrival of sheriff's deputies nevertheless suggests that someone at the store called the cops.

In her lawsuit, which seeks "damages in excess of Seventy Five Thousand Dollars," Goodson accuses Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young, Buckhalt, and a third deputy of false arrest and various Fourth Amendment violations. Is her story plausible? Sadly, yes. Goodson would not be the first innocent person who was treated like a criminal for buying what the government deems an excessive number of allergy pills.

[via Police State USA]