Common sense bill best

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In our zest to stop crime and punish people for the use of illegal drugs, both the populace and the legislature often become overzealous. Such is the case in the current effort to further regulate the use of ephedrine and pseudoephedine used to manufacture the dangerous drug methamphetamine. Anecdotal evidence, i.e. the number of recent arrests for meth, suggests that it is indeed a large problem in Covington County.

Many of us use ephedrine and pseudoephedine in a much safer form – over-the-counter medications for colds and allergies. Already, to purchase those drugs in Alabama, we have to provide an i.d. and record that purchase. Still, criminals manage to get around the law limiting the amounts of the drug one can purchase.

Some have proposed making those now over-the-counter drugs available only be prescription, as Mississippi has done. We believe that effort is over-reaching. Those who seek the medications for illegal use will go to Florida to buy them; law-abiding people will be in doctors’ waiting rooms.

But a bill already passed by the Alabama House and pending in the state Senate strengthens the governance with a more middle-of-the-road approach. It would allow the medications that contain the drugs to be purchased only in pharmacies, not in retail and convenience stores. It also would reduce the amount of pseudoephedrine-related medicines that an individual could purchased each month to 7.5 grams, enough to treat a cold for a month.

The proposal is a good way to tighten the net around those who would use the drugs to produce meth without overburdening sufferers of colds and allergies.