Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Finding the Right Balance; Drugs; Lawmakers Must Find Ways to Target Criminals While Respecting the Needs of Honest Missourians

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Finding the Right Balance; Drugs; Lawmakers Must Find Ways to Target Criminals While Respecting the Needs of Honest Missourians

Article excerpt

When it comes to tackling any problem, there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. Consider the fight against illegal methamphetamine production and use. Having been involved in crafting legislation to combat the meth trade, it's increasingly clear to me that when it comes to stopping meth, lawmakers must find the proper balance that targets criminals while respecting the rights and needs of honest Missourians. And on this issue, my colleagues did embrace balance.

In achieving balance, they rejected a proposal to force consumers to obtain a doctor's prescription before buying cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine. Meth dealers sometimes use these medicines to manufacture the illegal street drug. Supporters of a prescription mandate believe it will strike a blow against the meth trade.

A prescription mandate, in my view, is a fundamentally misguided approach to the meth problem, and my colleagues were smart to reject it. For starters, such a requirement would put a heavy burden on law- abiding Missourians. Under a mandate, responsible taxpayers would need to visit their physician in order to obtain the cold and allergy medicines of their choice. This will raise costs by forcing individuals to miss work and pay for a visit to the doctor's office. It also will add new burdens to our already overstretched medical system by increasing waiting times to see doctors.

We have learned from states with prescription mandates that taking away consumer access doesn't address the meth impact. According to recent finds by the Oregon-based Cascade Policy Institute, for instance, not only has that state's prescription requirement failed to address meth abuse, it also hasn't necessarily been responsible for the drop in meth lab incidents. Oregon's meth lab incidents have declined, but similar declines took place in six neighboring states that don't have prescription mandates. Moreover, much of Oregon's decrease occurred before the 2006 Rx-only law went into effect. …

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