In a startling reversal of last week’s panic over Oxycontin, the NY Times reported today that many states are facing “a surging methamphetamine problem,” and contemplating a drastic measure to stop it: making the pseudoephedrine-based cold medicines that are meth’s precursors available by prescription only. Oregon and Mississippi have already done this, apparently to great effect. Unsurprisingly, however, the healthcare industry is not wild about such a move towards “over-regulation” and its attendant
disenfranchisement of innocent Americans exercising their rights to convenient cold remedies. Healthcare industry lobbyists have successfully stalled legislation in a variety of states, over the objections of local law enforcement officials and community groups. Points readers interested in the full story of meth –the drug’s changing role in rural communities, its place in the global drugs traffic, its significant human costs, and the role that lobbyists have played in keeping the meth supply chain strong and well-lubricated– would do well to check out Nick Reding’s compelling Methland: the Death and Life of an American Small Town. Reding’s nuanced reportage usefully fills the gap between the competing banalities of moral panic-mongers and their libertarian counterparts (of both left and right wing varieties), demonstrating conclusively that drug addiction has personal and social dimensions–and requires personal and social remedies.