Stangl

It began for me a few weeks ago as a tickle in my throat, caused by sinus drainage. By the time I realized that my old friend ragweed had come to call, I was nursing a sore throat. After a full court press of allergy medicine, sinus rinsing, nasal spray and some vitamin C drops, I was no longer sounding like Barry White when I spoke.

It’s time to fight seasonal allergies. In the spring, I am affected by maple buds, in the fall it’s ragweed. For a period of a few weeks during each season, I am miserable. My wife suffers as well, due to different allergens.

We were visiting with a stranger who commented on how bad the ragweed is this fall. I haven’t made the time to see what the ragweed crop looks like, beyond the pollen reports issued by the weather service, but noticed this person didn’t seem to be suffering like me. Their secret? Claritin D, the allergy medication that contains pseudoephedrine.

Ah, pseudoephedrine, the wonder drug that opens up a stuffy nose. For the early years of my adult life, I depended on a wonderful drug, Drixoral, that did the trick for 12 hours. Life was good.

In the 1990s, products with pseudoephedrine sold over the counter began to move behind the counter, then you had to sign a book and provide identification to buy them.

It turns out pseudoephedrine was one of the raw materials needed to produce methamphetamine, known more by its shortened name: meth.

So, when allergies hit, I was faced with a choice: either try one of the pseudoephedrine substitutes (they were awful) or bite the bullet and register with the pharmacist.

At my core, I am a libertarian. If what you do behind closed doors doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s no one’s business but yours. I understand that meth is bad. That’s why there are laws against its possession and sale. Pseudoephedrine is a legal substance, safe when used as directed — like in an allergy medicine.

I get that pseudoephedrine can be used to make meth. A lot of innocent things can be subverted. I think the way society reacts to these challenges says a great deal about who we are as people.

When products containing pseudoephedrine began flying off the shelves and stolen from store rooms, lawmakers decided to make people show identification and sign a book before purchasing the products. Great idea. I’m sure bootleggers signed a registry to buy yeast as well.

The notion that we all need to be treated like criminals to save us from crime grates on me. I’m sure pharmacists are happy about having to approve every purchase of allergy medicine. It’s not like they have anything else to do like making sure people get the right drugs for their chronic conditions or serious illnesses.

But it makes it look like we are being tough on meth, right?

I know there’s nothing to be done but continue to be treated like a criminal to get my allergy medicine. I can pray for a killing frost or live in a bubble until the cold weather.

I’ll continue to show my ID and try not to make a joke about cooking meth.

I’m not Walter White, even if I am subjected to the same scrutiny.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.