Coming home from work this morning, my stupid snotty nose was itching and I was starting to sneeze, so I thought it would be a good idea to stop off at the local pharmacy to get some decongestant and antihistamine of a 24 hour variety. This would a) mean I wouldn't have to down Theraflu every 4 hours, and b) mean I can indulge myself with a little bourbon and honey this evening (which is not safe to do concurrently with Theraflu, which contains acetaminophen). I figure if I'm going to be sick, I may as well be able to indulge in the rare drink of bourbon without worrying about my liver melting.
So I made for the pharmacy counter, since Big Brother has decided that we're not to be trusted with the pseudoephedrine anymore. This mega-chain now has their store version of Claritin-D 24-hour in a 15 count box. Okay, I figure, I'll get that. What I don't need for the cold, David can use, since he needs it for his allergies. The problem: I now can't buy the 10 count box of plain old 24 hour pseudoephedrine I would use later for my chronic non-allergic sinus issues, because it puts me over the 2400mg per purchase limit that Big Brother has decided will keep me from running out and setting up my very own meth lab.
Score one for the War on Drugs, right? What's a little hassle when it means saving people from meth addiction, right? Well, maybe not so much.
The reason that these restrictions came about was that some addicts got it into their heads to go buy up large quantities of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products and set up their own homegrown labs. This allowed them to churn out small to moderate quantities of low-grade drug, but the main source for high-grade meth was and continues to be high-tech superlabs operating with relative impunity in Mexico.
Of course, the latest data available from the government reports that there was a 40% reduction in first-time use from 2003 to 2004 - well over a year before the federal restrictions were enacted and subsequently signed into law by the Current Occupant. There isn't later data, but I suspect this drop was akin to a market correction after a bubble market - the cool kids had lost all their teeth and it kind of killed the glamour.
So what did the restrictions accomplish? There is absolutely no government data available since they went into effect in early 2006, but the likely scenario is pretty clear. With the restrictions in place, the backyard meth labs were pretty much cut off from their source of raw materials, and it's likely that most of them were shut down. Their supply became too scarce and raised their costs of production too high. Which leaves the Mexican superlabs.
With the capital to fund production, a relatively much more available supply of raw materials, and now with much of their competition eliminated, these labs have now essentially been handed a corner on the market. I'm sure that there are rival cartels involved and that bloodletting occurs between them (which helps keep up the street price by increasing production costs), but that doesn't change the fact that the restrictions ultimately only serve as an economic subsidy to Mexican druglords. Well, that and as a royal pain in my arse.
You'd think that our elected officials would have taken at least a high school economics course.