When in Doubt, Punish the Consumer

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Americans have become accustomed to adapting our daily routines and dealing with various inconveniences in the name of security. Taking off our shoes at the airport, standing in line for metal detectors at the State Capitol and needing to ask the pharmacist for permission to buy certain over the counter drugs are just a few.

People like me, who prefer to use decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine, are the ones most used to that latest security inconvenience. It’s a pain, but it is the result of a law intended to try to stop meth production in Colorado.

Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in meth, so the logic of the law was if it was harder to get, and impossible to shoplift, the meth makers will be stopped.

The law has certainly slowed meth production in Colorado, but apparently not enough.

Now, in the face not actual growth in meth production, but the fear of potential growth in meth production, comes SB11-196, which would require a doctor’s prescription for any over the counter medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

Law enforcement officials say that since every pharmacy is not connected to a single database, meth lab producers can send in their minions with fake ID’s to buy the needed drugs all over town.

So the solution to this problem is to make the thousands of law abiding consumers go through their doctor just to get the over the counter medicine they need, instead of just creating a pharmaceutical database.

Obviously, I am a biased on this topic since I am a consumer. However, even I can point out the problem in proposing a new law to make it harder on consumers, when a more convenient, efficient and effective solution is staring us in the face.

Why do we assume the costs for consumers in the face of this potential inconvenience will be less than instituting a new database for pharmacies?

I think the reason a bill like this would even be considered is because of the security culture we live in right now. We are making decisions based on what we think will make us safer, but not necessarily instituting the best ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be as safe as the next guy. But at what point do we stop and think about the best ideas for our quality of life, and not about just an additional deadbolt on the front door, while the back door swings wide open?

If we go back to the meth lab problem, and find that fake ID’s are the problem, what makes us think that fake doctor’s prescriptions are far behind? If a meth head can find a fake ID, they can find a fake doctor. Heck, I imagine half of the pot dispensaries in Denver right now have at least one “prescription pad” in their dumpster right now.

My point is that we may think that we are making our world safer with ideas like SB11-196, but in reality, we would actually only make life tougher for consumers. The real criminals involved would simply side step the new law, just like they worked around the law that put the drugs behind the pharmacy desk in the first place.

But again, this isn’t about meth or sinus medicine, or even pharmacies. This is about our culture of wanting to feel safe, but not always thinking through the very best solution.

Sadly, if the Colorado State Senate is any indication, as a culture, it’s not going away anytime soon.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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