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Cold medicine buyers may get more than they bargained for

People in Iowa are no strangers to the common cold and seasonal allergies. But a lot of people don't realize that just to get the medication they need to handle their symptoms, they may have to subject themselves to a state-wide registration system that monitors their purchases. The reason is that one of the most common and useful ingredients in many popular cold medications, pseudoephedrine, is also one of the most frequently used ingredients in the production of illegal methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine has been a significant problem for Iowa law enforcement over the last decade, as instances of drug manufacturing have risen substantially. Meth manufacturing is a dangerous act which includes numerous caustic chemicals that can do serious harm to people who are exposed to them. It also creates environmental hazards that are extremely difficult to contain. Of course, there is also the possibility that these volatile chemicals mix in unintended ways, creating the potential for deadly explosions.

But the average consumer may not know this, and may not realize that the war on drugs has resulted in a policy that monitors law-abiding citizens in a potentially invasive way. Most people who buy cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine have no intent to use it to manufacture illegal drugs, yet they are still required to show a government identification card to buy it. If they end up purchasing too much of it over 24 hours or even a full month, they could be wind up being accused of a serious misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of probation, fines and even jail time.

Nobody supports illegal methamphetamine manufacturing operations, but the government's attempts to curb wrongdoers' access to ingredients by potentially penalizing the masses can lead to unfair and unreasonable consequences for innocent cold sufferers.

Source: Iowa Code Chapter 124 Controlled Substances - accessed Sept. 14, 2014

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