North Carolina’s methamphetamine problem is growing again, but the latest “solution” to the crisis from a legislative study commission is not the right answer.
Pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in many cold remedies, is also essential to preparing meth, and over the years the state has made it more difficult to get over-the-counter medicines containing it. Now legislators are considering requiring a prescription for any remedy containing pseudoephedrine. North Carolinians with colds would need a doctor to write it and a pharmacist to fill it.
Some statistics indicate that in Oregon and Mississippi, the only two states requiring prescriptions for these remedies, meth use has fallen dramatically.
Over the years, the Journal has endorsed every one of the previous measures to restrict access to the large quantities of pseudoephedrine needed to cook meth. But we can’t endorse this one.
First, as columnist Scott Mooneyham of the Capitol Press Association points out, the statistics from Oregon are open to wide interpretation given that California and Washington, neighboring states without a prescription law, have seen similar decreases. That indicates that heightened law enforcement is the true cause of the drop.
Second, a prescription requirement is simply too burdensome for people with colds. It will require more time to get the medicine and those with sniffles will face a doctor’s bill and the higher cost of a prescription drug.
Legislators should find another way to fight meth without putting cold medicine out of the reach of those who need it.