I absolutely hate that we're required by federal law to keep track of pseudoephedrine sales. For one, I don't see how people turning Sudafed into methamphetamine is a problem for me. Honestly, I couldn't care less if people are getting high off the stuff. Shit, they can make all the Meth they want. It's never affected my life one bit.
I have the same attitude towards the whole "war on drugs." Do I think people should do drugs? Absolutely not... except if they're getting prescriptions drugs at MY pharmacy. I think it's important to educate people on the dangers of drugs, but, in my opinion, that's the best we can do. If after learning the dangers, people still want to get high, then I say we let them. They were warned. If they still choose to do drugs, then they can only blame themselves for fucking up their lives.
Moreover, I hate how we pick and choose which drugs against which we stage this "war." We're made to keep track of Sudafed, a drug that's been sold over the counter for fucking decades, but when it comes to alcohol, nobody cares. What the fuck is that? Alcohol has killed more people and ruined more lives than methamphetamine, heroine, and cocaine combined, but we have commercials for Budweiser before every fucking sporting event. It's especially weird when you compare it to a drug like marijuana, which has an adverse effect profile that pales in comparison to alcohol. But judging from commercials, if you get drunk, no matter where you are, you'll probably be surrounded by models in bikinis, whereas smoking pot will destroy your life. If we're going to fight a war against drugs, then I say we should be consistent and fight against all drugs.
I digress... Besides the above reasons, the biggest reason I hate the "Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act" is that it's completely unenforceable. I'm a firm believer that a law can only be a law if you can enforce it. The whole Sudafed log book thing is really just designed to be a speed bump to try to deter people from buying massive amounts of pseudoephedrine and making methamphetamine, and like most speed bumps, there are plenty of ways around it.
First of all, there's no central pseudoephedrine database that all pharmacies can access. I have no idea if the person that just bought 2 boxes of regular Sudafed from me has a stuffy nose, or if he's bought 2 boxes of Sudafed from every pharmacy within 5 miles over the last 24 hours. A person can literally go from pharmacy to pharmacy buying Sudafed, and as long as he stays within the daily limit at each store, no one would think twice about it.
Secondly (and this is the reason for this post), some pharmacies do not even have a good system for tracking pseudoephedrine sales. For example, my pharmacy keeps a log book. This log book is a simple, old-fashioned binder where we write down the customer's name and address along with the product he bought. In a slow store, this might work fine. However, when you're filling 400 scripts per day, and there's literally 5 or 6 different employees who might be at the register during the course of the day, it's really hard to keep track of who bought what and when. I'll admit, we generally do not look through the log book to check if the person is within the monthly limit of pseudoephedrine. In fact, a customer could probably come at 9 in the morning, buy 2 boxes of Sudafed, and then come back 8 hours later and buy 2 more boxes from a different cashier, and we wouldn't even realize it. We're just too busy, and it takes too much time to always check.
This became clear to me over the weekend when one of our clerks thought that one of the pseudoephedrine-purchasing customers looked a little sketchy and decided to look back through the log to see if he had a history. Well, she found out that he had purchased Sudafed 12-hr about 15 times during the months of July and August. Technically, he was within the legal monthly limit. However, after reading the article The Angriest Pharmacist mentioned, I decided that some asshole undercover narcotics agent might consider these sales "reckless" and arrest me on felony drug charges.
I brought the issue up to my pharmacy manager, who kind of laughed it off. I don't think it's funny though. A paper log book is not a good enough on-the-fly tracking method. Sure, we can look back and see who got what, when, and how much if we were alerted to someone who might be buying a heck of a lot of pseudoephedrine. However, it's very unlikely we'd ever deny someone the sale on the spot because we just wouldn't have the time to thoroughly analyze the book. I suggested that we try to bring our situation to corporate (along with a copy of the article to which Angriest linked) in order to try to get an electronic tracking system.
Upon calling the closest Walgreen's in order to ascertain if our Sudafed Guy had been getting it at other pharmacies too, I was told by the Walgreen's pharmacist that even though they have an electronic system that monitors and makes sure no one is sold more than the legal limit, the pharmacist cannot actually access the records and search for a particular customer's purchasing history. Therefore, he could not tell me if our Sudafed Guy was getting Sudafed from them too. He just knows that if they did sell it to him, he would be within the monthly limit at Walgreen's.
What good is that? Just like I said, even with the electronic tracking system, there's nothing stopping someone from going pharmacy to pharmacy purchasing the legal limit. Therefore, like I said, the law is simply meant to be a deterrent making it a little bit harder for someone to acquire enough pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine.
While I think a law as a deterrent is pretty stupid, it wouldn't upset me so much if not for the fact that, judging by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics actions against that pharmacist, the federal government takes the law very seriously... so seriously that they're arresting pharmacists because they're selling perfectly legal quantities of pseudoephedrine to "suspicious" customers.
If you want to have your stupid law, fine. Just don't pretend that it makes a difference. Yes, it seems that ever since the law has gone into place, there have been far fewer methamphetamine labs in the United States. However, despite fewer labs, the supply of methamphetamine on the streets has stayed roughly the same. The reason? Mexican producers have noticed the increase in U.S. demand of their methamphetamine and have increased shipments into the country using the cocaine shipment routes from the '80's. Therefore, just as many people are getting high on Meth now as they were before the act was implemented. Doesn't sound too successful to me.
All the federal government is doing now is taking the focus off the real methamphetamine dealers and putting it on pharmacists, thus adding another responsibility to our ever growing pile. When will this shit end? We get so bogged down in following the stupid laws that we forget the whole point of the law in the first place. It's the COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE EPIDEMIC ACT. The new law didn't do a damn thing to stop the epidemic. It's now simply inconveniencing pharmacists and possibly turning them into felons for selling a drug that has been perfectly legal for decades. The stupidity never seems to end.