Indiana prosecutor says she's duty bound to prosecute grandma who bought cold medicine

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93 Responses to “Indiana prosecutor says she's duty bound to prosecute grandma who bought cold medicine”

  1. Jenonymous says:

    BWC–nope, but thanks for playing. Both the “generic” (ie store-branded pills) and the “name brands” are behind the counter at pharmacies now.

    BTW, what everyone else said RE how much this law sucks if you have allergies or any other medical condition that is truly helped by OTC Sudafed.

    Worse yet, the law makes it harder for doctors to prescribe PRESCRIPTION-strength Pseudophedrine. Case in point: I have severe congenital sinus deformities which can’t be surgically corrected, at lest not safely. For years, my doc wrote me for one bottle of 30 horsepills that were a mix of Guiafenisen and Pseudophedrine. I would take ONE twice a day for two or three days at the first sign of a cold, and 95% of the time that staved off a serious, wildfire sinus infection.

    Now, I have to nurse along a bottle of 10, and I only get one such bottle a year or less. Why? Well, while this guy seems to dole out sleep meds and (ironically) codeine cough syrup by the bucketfull, he’s now under scrutiny for each Pseudophedrine-based scrip that he writes.

    So now, alas, I need antibiotics at least once or twice a year for “burst your eardrum” fast-onset infections (most recent: went from feeling “mildly shitty-may be catching something” to 103 fever in 36 hours), and all of the adjunct “mop up meds” rather than just preventing a more serious infection in the first place.

    All these moronic laws have done is make Mexican drug cartels rich.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m with Nutbastard on this one, since its seems likely that the only way they found out she was breaking the law was via the pharmacy records, WTF is the pharmacy doing abetting the crime? How difficult would it be to say “We see from our records that you bought some of this recently, so we can’t sell you anymore until next week.” Our tax dollars at work, making the world safe for….hmm not grandmothers or their grand-children…. Making the world safe for pharmacists.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      WTF is the pharmacy doing abetting the crime?

      You can’t legally purchase pseudoephedrine without swiping your Driver’s License/ID into the system or having the pharmacy write it down in a controlled substance ledger. It’s the law. Do you think that the pharmacist enjoys taking the time to bust you for buying an OTC drug?

  3. nutbastard says:

    @#16

    “so am i to understand that under american law, it is illegal to buy cold medicine?”

    I think it’s an Indiana thing – oh shit, it’s not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoephedrine#United_States

    9 grams in 30 days is the national limit, apparently, and you have to provide ID when you buy it, and they have to keep a record of it for quite some time.

    if the chemistry on the show “Breaking Bad” is accurate (and i’m pretty sure it is) methamphetamines can be manufactured without pseudoephedrine using methylamine, which is made with “ammonia with methanol in the presence of a silicoaluminate catalyst.”

    also of interest, “Methylamine arises naturally as the result of putrefaction” – which means enough rotting meat might produce significant amounts of it – im no chemist.

  4. Larem says:

    It’s the ‘same’ law in California.
    You buy the sudafed you get put on the list. I have allergies and this is the best over the counter I can get. It’s a F’in’ stupid law. It doesn’t stop the drug makers…

  5. Pipenta says:

    It’s late and I haven’t read the thread of comments, and have only glanced at the article, but I just want to comment…

    Driving across the country, the single most horrifyingly depressing place I saw was Vermillion. I remember the crushing despair I felt just driving through the town. I thought, I’d rather be dead than live here.

  6. nutbastard says:

    @#17 Danalan

    from what i hear there’s no shortage of meth anywhere in america, but i dont think it’s due to meth labs employing huge numbers of ‘smurfs’ to go around buying up small quantities – it is likely smuggled over from mexico in huge quantities.

  7. Andrew says:

    Via the linked article, the prosecutor responds to criticism of her decision to take the case forward.

    She proceeds to miss the point again, saying she had (and should have?) no discretion as to whether to prosecute, and that if she were to exercise such discretion it would inevitably result in increased drug use. (Just because the law doesn’t require intent to make meth doesn’t mean you can’t take other circumstances into account when deciding to proceed.)

    I have honestly asked myself whether I treated Ms. Harpold unfairly in the handling of her case, and I still think that this case was prosecuted and resolved in an appropriate manner. Even you begin your analysis with the premise that strict enforcement of the drug laws is necessary so that your county (Vigo) and mine (Vermillion) do not experience the same kind of meth epidemic that we did just a few years ago. [...]

    The law, of course, does not require that the State show that the purchaser intended to make meth. And, the truth of the matter, is that many of the people who violate the “purchase law” are not meth makers. [...]

    And, even though you disagree with my handling of this case, the public should know that our law enforcement officers review the pharmacy records approximately every 45-60 days, and I will continue to prosecute anyone who violates this law.

    Maybe we should tell the prosecuting attorney in this case she’s no better than a bot?

    Yup. :)

  8. DWittSF says:

    “I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it. I felt I … owed it to them.”

    Judge Smails

  9. Anonymous says:

    4 words:

    Jury Trial
    Jury Nullification

    This is what those 2 things are for, folks.

    Dave

  10. DonBoy says:

    You know, I’m wondering what the point is of repeating constantly that she’s a GRANDMOTHER, like it makes a difference to her guilt or innocence? Walking back the chain of links here, she bought one box for her husband and one for her adult daughter, who is the mother of triplets, which seems to have nothing do with anything — I don’t see a claim that the second box was for the grandchildren. Just of flip side of how we never see headlines “Grandfather of 8 becomes Chairman of huge corporation”, as they taught us in 1970s feminism.

    On another point, at the source story I did see this:

    Harpold, who is employed at the Rockville Correctional Facility for women, feels her reputation has been damaged by the arrest, and that she has been wrongly labeled as someone who makes meth.

    That’s gotta hurt.

  11. JJR1971 says:

    It strikes me as more than a little nuts that the Pharmacy didn’t just deny the 2nd sale…?

    “Sorry, Madam, but I can’t legally sell this to you, you’ve exceeded your quota for the week.”

    I mean, in Texas I have to sign my name into a ledger, swipe my driver’s license into a machine, etc, and sign electronically as well. I always assumed a Pharmacy would tell me “no sale” if I went across the street to the other Pharmacy, since it’s all interlinked to the same database, right? Are Pharmacies exempted under Indiana law?

    I hope the jury acquits in short order, or at most gives her a slap on the wrist (smallest possible fine + shortest possible probation).

  12. nutbastard says:

    @all

    also, check this out:

    “The House passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 as an amendment to the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act.”

    Yes, that’s right – this retarded shit came straight out of our favorite piece of legislation, you know – the one that was passed almost unanimously without anyone ever having read it – The Patriot Act. (Obama voted for it as well, BTW)

  13. Lookforthewoman says:

    How bizarre!
    I just asked my coworker how much pseudoephedrine he has in his desk, and I checked my desk. (We work in a new building and always have cold/allergy pills on hand.) The OTC bottles that we have (generic of course!), each, contain 24 caplets of 30mg of pseudoephedrine (plus antihistamines and analgesics)
    7.2 grams each bottle!

  14. Anonymous says:

    @9

    The only intent that matters is that she intended to purchase a certain quantity of the medicine, since that’s what the law prohibits.

    IAAL.

  15. cinemajay says:

    I don’t get it? In MN they just remind you at the check out that you have to wait a week to get another box? What’s the big flippin’ deal?

    /give Grannie a break!

  16. jimh says:

    DWITTSF: Win. Beat me to it! How about a Fresca!?

  17. Miss Jess says:

    Amen to #54 and #69. My husband happens to be from that area of the state – yes… it’s a nasty stretch of road populated with way too many methheads. The laws in Vigo County are strict for a reason – though this is pretty darn ridiculous if you ask me. But… grandmothers in this state are just as talented at operating meth labs as their grandsons. Or supplying. So the law tends to be overzealous about it.

  18. Manny says:

    I have bad allergies with congestion that gives me problems with my CPAP. My doctor says that I am supposed to take the strongest Sudafed every day. Taking it would be legal, but I am not allowed to buy enough for myself. I don’t think there is a limit on people giving it to me as a gift and I’m not sure what the law says about me reimbursing people who pick it up for me, but it doesn’t seem worth it to bother people. My doctor wrote a prescription for the full amount, but the law doesn’t distinguish prescriptions from OTC. I could get large quantities of heroin by prescription, but not Sudafed.

    My son has chronic congestion for no known reason and is also supposed to take Sudafed. The law doesn’t allow me to buy double to cover him, though, and the pharmacists won’t sell to a minor, so we are just plain screwed there.

    Of course, I don’t go to several pharmacists who keep paper logs instead of computerized ones and hope that no one slogs through them and compares across pharmacies. Because that would be illegal. In fact, mostly I say “screw it” and only use it for bad colds, because going on and off it seems to make the congestion worse.

  19. DelicateFlower says:

    I guess there’s no prosecutorial discretion in Indiana?

  20. Trevel says:

    My money is on them prosecuting with intent for someone to rule the law stupid, and they considered this as good a chance as any.

    How else do you get them to call off a stupid law?

  21. dw_funk says:

    As I hail from Vigo County, allow me to shed some light on the situation.

    The fact that these fine public servants are Democrats should not really have any bearing on the case. Vigo County, throughout most of its history, has been a Democratic-leaning county, and while I’m not familiar with the details, I’ve always suspected some machine politics. Terre Haute has plenty of politicians that run as Democrats simply because it’s the reliable way to get elected. Judging by the Terre Haute PD, I somehow doubt that Mr. Marvel is significantly interested in climate change, marriage equality, or public health care, although I could be wrong, and it’s not like most Democrats do, either.

    Also, the laws here are particularly strict given the degree of meth abuse and production in the county; at one point, Vigo was one of the top meth-producing counties in the country. Lots of explosions and forest fires and the like.

    Finally, Vigo County (and Vermillion, I’m sure) is Hell on Earth, a long strip mall surrounded by misery, and this shouldn’t surprise you, because it didn’t phase me. Don’t visit.

  22. danlalan says:

    @lookforthewoman

    1 mg = .001 gm
    24 X 0.03 = 0.72 gm

    So you needn’t panic yet…but watch yourself, cuz you know THEY are…

  23. jimh says:

    Well, in Indiana it is illegal to carry fishing tackle in a cemetery. True. Now you know. Don’t try it buster, or you’ll end up in the slam! With the methies, also.

  24. nox says:

    Hey, the police are just doing their job. The laws are the problem.

  25. Kaz says:

    what if i lose my cold medicine the first day? or worse, the airlines loses it?

  26. nutbastard says:

    @#31

    “The OTC bottles that we have (generic of course!), each, contain 24 caplets of 30mg of pseudoephedrine (plus antihistamines and analgesics)
    7.2 grams each bottle!”

    bad math – 30mg x 24 = 720mg (0.72g), not 7,200mg.

  27. bwcbwc says:

    I wonder if this law was pushed by big pharma to force people to buy the expensive anti-allergy meds that are still under patent, rather than the generic pseudoephedrine.

  28. mandolinda says:

    They are making an example of this woman because they are drunk with power. Unfortunately, in my neighborhood they are drunk with apathy.

    When my car was stolen and then recovered two months later (after being abandoned), I went to collect what was left of my personal property. There was an empty **CASE** of Sudafed in the back seat — I believe left there by the thieves who had probably stolen it off a delivery truck. When I called the “detective” in charge of my case and asked if he knew about the evidence, he told me “No…” and “there is no way to know what belongs to you and what belongs to the car thief.” I said, “If that case belonged to ME you ought to be investigating ME under ANY circumstances!” I was told that is not the way it works, and no further action was going to be taken. I’m thinking “WTF?!”

    I agree with dbisping, it’s a health and education problem, not a criminal problem. Making an example of someone’s grandma is a stupid waste of money. Locating and rehabilitating grand larcenists who are also cooking meth would be a much better use of the funds. Do’h!

  29. nutbastard says:

    damn, danalan beat me to it.

    damn damn danalan.

  30. Capstan says:

    Discretion is the carpet that bad laws get swept under. If the law did not allow for discretion, then people would get more up in arms about laws and lawmakers and fewer laws (and fewer stupid laws) would be on the books. The cost would be, of course, that seriously unfortunate cases would get prosecuted because simplistic laws do (and perhaps can-) not account for them.

    Don’t really know how to address the latter, other than making discretion the exception and not the rule. Maybe rare, expiring “discretion tokens” (e.g., you can excuse something once a year).

  31. octopod says:

    @78, yeah. but grandmother makes it a better story, and more page views , whatever.

    meth is pretty good at fucking ppl up, and the community there does sound damaged.

    (selective quoting is always a good one), but it doesn’t sound quite so teh-sky-is-fallings:

    Harpold said she did go talk to the prosecutor about the situation, and Alexander offered her the deferral program, in which Harpold is required to pay the court costs, abide by all laws and not be arrested for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, the class-C misdemeanor will be erased from her record.

    Alexander said she is working with Harpold about the charge, but the prosecutor asserts that Harpold did break the law with her purchases and is being held accountable.

    “I do want people to know that we will check the pharmacy records and we will prosecute people who violate this law,” Alexander said.

    Vermillion County Sheriff Bob Spence said he also is willing to help Harpold overcome the negative situation.

    “If there’s any way we can help her, we will,” Spence said.

    ======

    (tbh the comments are the end are quite amusing )

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’m curious, where does HIPA fall on police regularly reviewing someone’s medical records. You can’t get a used tissue from a doctor’s office without getting the patient to sign all sorts of forms to cover the doctor’s backside. What this story is about is small town-itis I am afraid. A prosecutor who takes herself way too seriously, a sheriff who appears totally befuddled, and a state legislature that is afraid to lift its head above the ground because it has been making one mistake after another, sending the Indiana economy into turmoil. Wait until we learn who wrote this law. I am sure there are quite a few office colleagues banging on Ms. Alexander’s door to demand she take a more conciliar approach to the matter or at a minimum, just shut up. Now her conduct is classic case bravado defensiveness because she acted the dolt. And her harrumphed verbal push back has made only matters worse for herself. It is likely, her superior in agreement with law enforcement will not only announce, without her presence, that the case has been dropped, but at the well attended, televised announcement, will include one or both U.S. Senators, the Congressman or woman for the district, and a handful of state legislators. Along with the announcement to drop the case, it will be announced that they have suspended the statute and will revisit the matter upon additional study. They will continue, that the law was never intended to criminalize non-criminal behavior and no law abiding citizen should be subject to the heavy hand of law enforcement or an overzealous prosecutor because of the purchase of an over the counter cold medicine. The role of government should be to protect the people, not to threaten and demand subservience to its every vicissitude.

  33. Anonymous says:

    When I first moved out to California from Iowa, I was still in the habit of warming my truck up in the morning before leaving to work. I would step back inside to finish my coffee. One morning I came out to find one of “America’s Finest” filling out a citation which was presented to me. The charge was for leaving a vehicle unattended while running. I went to court to try and fight it and my only defense was that I just didn’t know that what I did was against the law. It didn’t work. To make his point the Judge waved his arm at the wall behind him lined with books containing laws. He said that even he couldn’t possibly know all of the laws that they contained, but that all of us were required to abide by them.
    I guess that my point is that I found that a little bit stupid.

  34. Anonymous says:

    This prosecutor sounds like she is on meth or something to begin with: Every prosecutor has discrteion in which cases “go forward”.

    If they prosecuted every case presented to them the courts would be even mnore jammed up than they are.

    This stuff makes it harder and harder to be proud of being an American when it seems we are governed by fools and lunatics.

    The ultimate goal of any budding police state is to make it so that *every* citizen is guilty of something at any given time.

  35. DWittSF says:

    JIMH–Very good! I know how hard it is for young people today and I want to help. Just ask my grandson, Spaulding. He and I are regular pals.

  36. Clemoh says:

    Republican?

  37. kc0bbq says:

    @32 – beyond the already corrected math, most analgesic/pseudoephedrine mixes are exempt because you can’t use them to make meth. That’s why some require you to be put on the national list and some do not.

    Locally there has been a silver lining to the cloud of stupidity of having to be put on a federal list just to buy some cold medicine. The meth is imported instead of made locally, which has cut down on the news stories of meth labs burning up and killing people. Which would be fine if it was just the tweakers and/or dealers involved, but it’s always a trailer full of children that end up dead.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Regarding the prosecutor; to paraphrase:

    “The public has the responsibility to know who is brain dead and who is not, and lack of common sense is no excuse”

    Christ, another mindless droid. When will it end?

    - Farknarker

  39. Brainspore says:

    @mandolinda #44:

    They are making an example of this woman because they are drunk with power. Unfortunately, in my neighborhood they are drunk with apathy.

    If you could really get drunk off apathy then we’d have an even bigger problem in this country than the meth epidemic!

  40. Amylopan says:

    This is outrageous. Here’s the prosecutor’s contact information, if you’re interested.

    http://www.vermillionprosecutor.com/contact.htm

  41. redstarr says:

    Hopefully the citizens where the prosecutor holds office will vote her out. Not only is she prosecuting someone that pretty much no reasonable citizen would want to see punished for that, she’s wasting the court’s time and taxpayer money on the case.

    If I was her opponent, I’d probably pay the grandmother’s bail and make sure that the story didn’t die before the prosecutor came up for re-election. I’d have that grandma telling her story in all my commercials.

  42. Bucket says:

    One of the only “victories” in the war on drugs was the elimination of quaaludes/methaqualone in the early 80′s. Part of the strategy for eliminating it was to make things difficult and expensive for legitimate producers of quaaludes and its main ingredient methaqualone.

    They’re now doing the same thing with crystal meth/pseudoephidrine. These laws aren’t there to keep Claritin-D out of the hands of drug makers, it’s to make the production of pseudoephidrine unprofitable for the drug companies who make it in bulk.

    Only idiots* would use over the counter cold meds to make meth, since the retail price of the box of cold meds is usually higher than what you’d get on the street for the amount of meth it would create. It would be like counterfitting one dollar bills by stripping the ink off of real twenties.

    So they have to prosecute Grandma. That’s what they want to happen. It’s their goal to get people afraid to buy legal pseudoephidrine in an effort to get the drug companies to stop making it.

    It’s idiotic, of course. Pseudoephidrine is one of the few things that help millions of allergy sufferers (like me) make it through the day, and I suspect the economic impact of taking it off the market will be far more severe than dealing with the occasional hyper tweaker.

    *Unfortunately, meth heads aren’t typically rocket-scientist material, so you do find people doing this.

  43. bolamig says:

    On the other hand… it’s even more of a travesty to have laws that are only enforced against “questionable” people, ignored for “fine upstanding” people. Give the cops an inch of leeway and they’ll hang the guys that piss them off rather than the criminals.

  44. nutbastard says:

    @#47

    “Republican”

    Ha! You wish!

    Nina Alexander – Democrat
    Jon Marvel – Democrat

    then again, anyone who’s been paying attention knows there’s no significant difference between republican and democrats – they just squabble about abortion and immigration back and forth to keep everyone distracted, and to appear to be fundamentally different, when in reality, both want to control you, tax you, and harass you beyond reason. Barack Jesus Christ Obama is the same as George Lucifer Bush (though admittedly with better oration skills and able to dress himself in the morning) when you get down to the nitty gritty. How anyone can vote for someone who voted for the Patriot Act is fucking beyond me.

    The only way I’d be surprised is if Nina and John were 3rd party.

  45. 2k says:

    After the, frankly terrifyingly, deep discussions on Religious garb the last few days I’m soo glad we’re back hatin’ on the dumb, deadly system.

    Sarcastic. Sarcastic….
    Ah!

    At least she’s headed for jail now and can’t force her grand-daughter into a life of meth-dealing. ‘Cause if Breaking Bad has taught me anything it’s that the older one cooks it and the younger one sells it.

  46. Anonymous says:

    It’s circumstances like this that precisely illustrate the dilemma with ‘law’ enforcement.

    If a prosecutor is compelled to follow through on a crime, as codified by law, without personal discretion, eg: they HAVE to follow through, then they are no better than an automatons and can (should?) effectively be replaced by a computer system.

    The entire legal system for that matter could be codified by a set of rules put down by code in a system. Given circumstances A, B, and C user X has violated laws 1, 2, and 3. Punitive actions taken include blah, blah, blah…

    There is no middle ground with such a world view that a prosecutor HAS to follow through on attempting to convict anyone of a crime.

    The alternative, which doesn’t seem to exist for the lawyer in this case, is to retain the human element and use personal discretion to account for variances in the ideal ‘use-case’ of a codified crime.

    Thoughts?

    Maybe we should tell the prosecuting attorney in this case she’s no better than a bot?

  47. danlalan says:

    now, now, nutbastard, you forget that job#1 for any politician is to get re-elected. If that means voting for some ill-conceived knee-jerk reactionary legislation that is virtually guaranteed to be popular with our educated, sophisticated electorate because it has the word “patriot” in the title, well then by god thats what they’re gonna do.

  48. RevEng says:

    Another horrible example of how broken the legal system is. I can hardly believe that the judge in this case wouldn’t look past the letter of the law to the intent of the law, which is what judges are supposed to do. The grandmother had no intention of making meth, or supplying people who make meth, she was just buying meds for her sick grandchildren — something ordinary people do all of the time.

    What should have happened is that the judge should have written an opinion stating that the intent of the law was to punish those buying psuedoephedrine for making methamphetamines and make intent a part of the law, letting the grandmother go free (with an apology for the hardship she’s now experienced). Instead, another brain-dead judge follows the law to the letter, punishing an innocent person who, despite breaking a law, has done nothing immoral or unacceptable.

    I don’t know who is most at fault here. We have a prosecutor fighting a case that they know is bullshit, a judge who can’t think for herself, and a law made by a commitee who all missed the obvious flaw in their logic.

    I sincerely hope that this woman’s lawyer appeals this and takes it to the supreme court. It’s unfortunate that this woman has to pay to overturn a ridiculous law, but it would be even worse for her to roll over and take it, leaving the law open to make more hapless victims.

  49. Anonymous says:

    FTA: “Alexander has generously allowed Harpold to enter a deferral program.”

    Gee, thanks so much for your generosity in this “unfortunate” situation.

  50. bolamig says:

    Although the Prosecutor is a tool, the real boneheads are the lawmakers that created this law. I wouldn’t be surprised if hackers figure out a way to tap into the lawmaker’s drugstore records and see if they’ve violated any laws.

  51. Boba Fett Diop says:

    The law is an ass.

  52. Viadd says:

    Do we really want a country where only the poor are forbidden to steal bread, sleep under bridges, and buy two bottles of cold medicine in the same week?

  53. Baldhead says:

    seems to me that she could sue the pharmacy for allowing her to buy the stuff in illegal quantities.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Fighting the war on Meth is understandable; but it sounds like this law may need a little tweeking. For two people who were elected by there county residents I know they have to be educated to perform their daily responsibilities but a little common sense goes a long way also; nothing like ruining a persons good name and putting them in financial straights just so you can say you did your job. Come on folks wake up!

  55. aldasin says:

    Wow, what sub-human scum those two are.

  56. dougrogers says:

    It’s not manslaughter, nor murder. The law, as stupid as it is, assumes intent.

  57. Lee S says:

    It’s official…this country is certifiably insane

  58. andreinla says:

    It’s unrealistic to believe that laws created as a reaction to a particular behavior are going to be successful. Such laws are not addressing the issue, but the infinite variations of undesired symptoms. Thus, we end up with an infinite amount of laws and un-addressed issues. Hardly a solution, but this is at the core of our punitive culture drunk on power over (oppression).

    An alternative is to offer treatment to addicted people, make substances legal and distribute them cheaply and cleanly, invest in solutions vs. punishment. Scary and expensive, yes.

    The illusion of control is the evil we know.

  59. GiantSnowman says:

    What does cold medicine do anyway? I didn’t know there was a cure for the common cold. Does it alleviate symptons or reduce contagiousness? I’ve never seen anyone take any medicine for it.

  60. Church says:

    The obvious solution is to make a stronger med, so that law-abiding citizens can get an effective dose…

  61. Anonymous says:

    One can only hope that, once this gets in front of a judge, he throws it out immediately, then reads the police and the DA the riot act for their draconian action, followed by their unabashedly stiff and stupid self-justifications.

  62. dougrogers says:

    I believe she might also have a viable suit against the drugstore which reported her, and the manufacturer of the medicine.

    If the drugstore believed her purchase infringed the law, do they not have some obligation to warn her to that effect? Aren’t they then aiding and abetting? They are not not obliged to sell. They CAN refuse to serve a customer.

    Shouldn’t the manufacturer have to state some warning on the label?

    “Warning, contents may be hot.”

  63. Bob Rossney says:

    Saith reveng:

    I can hardly believe that the judge in this case wouldn’t look past the letter of the law to the intent of the law, which is what judges are supposed to do.

    The case hasn’t gone before a judge, according to the original story. It’s not clear that Hargold’s even been arraigned yet.

    Saith dbisping:

    drugs and alcohol abuse is a health problem. it’s not a criminal problem. it’s not a morality problem. it’s a health problem.

    Well, yes and no. Meth production is not merely a health problem, it is also an environmental problem. Meth labs are very toxic; they produce a lot more toxic waste than they do meth. I used to work with a former sheriff’s deputy from rural California whose primary reason for changing careers was that he wanted a job that didn’t involve so much unexpected contact with benzene.

    This is not to say that laws criminalizing the purchase of pseudephedrine are not idiotic. Pseudephedrine becomes a pretty unattractive precursor for meth production if you have to buy it.

  64. dougrogers says:

    “Prosecutor Nina Alexander … admits she knows Harpold had no intention of making meth with the medicine. That’s beside the point”

    No it isn’t. No intent, no crime.

  65. Anonymous says:

    You have to look at all the facts folks! I mean come on….the grandma’s teeth were rotting, she looked frail, and looked impaired because she was having a hard time walking. Coupled with these facts and purchasing two cough meds surely looks like a meth user/producer. I say she gets 20-30 years in the state pen with no option of parole.
    -Rosco P. Coltrain a git guu!

  66. danlalan says:

    Besides the obvious DOH! moment for Indiana legislators, I’m a bit concerned that they both track the purchases closely enough to catch her while simultaneously failing to warn her of her legal peril. Or is this possibly some kind of test case?

  67. schmeis says:

    Here’s a thought: you could just outlaw making Meth instead of outlawing buying regular household products that might make Meth.

    But then, I suppose they tried that, and it WAS an election year, so …

  68. Gutierrez says:

    @DOUGROGERS

    Intent establishes the severity of the crime. It’s the difference between Murder and Manslaughter. They’re still both crimes.

    At the same time, this should be a common sense ruling. Publicize it hard to create the fear of prosecution, then give her some slap on the wrist fine if you’re so concerned about the crime itself. That way you still have a precedent of not letting people off the hook, and this poor woman doesn’t have too much of a mess on her hands. Even so, this really deserves to be dropped from the get go.

  69. Boba Fett Diop says:

    Of course, one might ask “why not just make pseudoephedrine cold medicine prescription-only?”

    Because then, of course, the drug companies wouldn’t make as much money selling it to people who need a stimulant so they can get to work when they’re sick, because they don’t have decent health care.

  70. rwmj says:

    Ummm … Rule of law, good. Rule of man, bad. Right?

  71. Anonymous says:

    Doug Rogers, no, that way lies madness. Literally.

    People have to be judged by what they do, not by what they think or want. Intentions are not deeds. Criminalizing intent means enforcing thoughtcrime laws – you may not think certain ways, or about certain things.

    The law is wrong and the people enforcing it are weak, immoral puppets of wrongful law. But making worse laws is not the answer.

  72. dsac86 says:

    Just in case people were curious…

    I worked closely with Crown prosecutors in BC, Canada, and when a prosecutor here is deciding which charges go ahead or not (yes, that’s the decision of the lawyers, not the police), part of what goes into consideration is whether it’s in the public interest to prosecute.

    We had surefire cases that we could have brought through to court and prosecuted with perfect evidence, but realized that it was not to the benefit of society. It’s too bad Ms. Alexander didn’t come to the same conclusion (although maybe it is not an option – I don’t know the law in her jurisdiction).

  73. Anonymous says:

    @26: The Wikipedia article you cite deals primarily with the federal law as it applies to the seller (pharmacy, grocery store, etc.); thus, the 30-day 9-gram purchase limit is imposed upon the seller, with a misdemeanor possession offense for the buyer.

    Individual states tighten this further. In the state of Arizona, where I reside, it appears that the state laws are currently slightly more lax than the federal laws — meaning that the federal laws are probably what everyone is going by now.

    I found a couple resources:
    http://www.azdps.gov/information/Chemicals/Questions/#18

    http://www.glendaleaz.com/Police/pseudoephederine.cfm

    The former link merely states that 9 grams, or 3 boxes of medication, is what you’re allowed to purchase “at one time.” The latter link notes that the state and municipal laws are currently weaker than the federal laws, and breaks them down with their effects. Since the federal law actually imposes a 3.6 gram daily limit (per the Wikipedia article), this would seem by far to be the strongest limit.

  74. sleze says:

    @dougrogers – “No it isn’t. No intent, no crime.”

    FTA

    “the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.

    ‘The law does not make this distinction,’ Alexander said…”

    Care to revise your statement?

  75. Robotech_Master says:

    “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” is no excuse.
    Do you know where the phrase “ignorance of the law is no excuse” comes from?

    It comes from ancient Rome, where the law code was simple and short enough that it was publicly posted everywhere and every citizen was expected to read it.

    Thus, literally, “ignorance of the law was no excuse” because every citizen had the opportunity to familiarize himself with every single word of it.

    But to try to claim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” in a modern society where even lawyers and judges don’t know all of the laws by heart is ridiculous. I’m sure we all break at least one law per day whether we know it or not.

  76. Anonymous says:

    It’s actually not true that this prosecutor must prosecute the woman. She feels it is true, but that’s just proof that she does not understand the discretion with which she is actually vested in disgcharging her duties.

    Attention, USA: stop electing prosecutors, you’ll stop getting prosecutors who think they have a duty to prosecute even in cases where prosecution is not in the public interest.

  77. sshoys says:

    I hope the prosecutor catches a really bad cold and can’t buy cough medicine to treat it.

  78. limepies says:

    so am i to understand that under american law, it is illegal to buy cold medicine? why the hell is it in the stores then?

    oh, right. because not EVERYBODY is making meth in the kitchen.

    does canada/provincial law have equally inane rules that i’m not aware of?

  79. benher says:

    Thanks lady, now I feel I understand the law. So well, in fact, that is has helped me make up my mind to never, ever move to Indiana or return to the United States for that matter.

  80. Anonymous says:

    @13 “because they don’t have decent health care.”

    or no healthcare at all.

  81. danlalan says:

    I’ll bet the folks who do want to make meth appreciate the heads up and will now use multiple people to make their purchases…this is just a win all around.

  82. nutbastard says:

    I can’t even believe that a law like this can be constitutional.

    Pseudoephedrine is an OTC medication. It does not require a prescription.

    If it is illegal to purchase more than 3 grams in a 7 day period, is not the burden on the pharmacy? After all, they willingly sold it to her, in violation of the law, and I would think that the pharmacy should know a bit more about OTC drug laws than the average grandmother. How are they not culpable in this ‘crime’?

    Just as a liquor store is responsible for verifying that the customer can legally purchase their products, well, you get the idea. It’s technically not illegal to purchase alcohol if you are between the ages of 18 and 21, it’s illegal for them to sell it to you. Once you have it, though, you’re in the clear – as an adult you are allowed to possess alcohol.

    In conclusion, this shit is retarded and I can’t believe how fucking ridiculous the laws are and how mind-blowingly evil (and proud of it) the enforcers of the law have become. Or always were. Probably the second one.

  83. Anonymous says:

    When laws are just, you don’t need to know them; you need only act with courtesy, decency and common sense. It’s only when the law is fundamentally broken that people have to know the law. This is a fundamental principle of jurisprudence.

    The ancients did not seek to rule people with knowledge,
    But to help them become natural.

    It is difficult for knowledgeable people to become natural;
    So to use law to control a nation weakens the nation,
    But to use nature to control a nation strengthens the nation.

    Understanding these two paths is understanding subtlety;
    Subtlety runs deep, ranges wide,
    Resolves confusion and preserves peace.

    –Master Lao

  84. Anonymous says:

    I only wish we didn’t live in a social environment where those who are “tough on crime” are hailed as saviors. I honestly don’t know if I will live to see our justice system fixed.

  85. cmpalmer says:

    Hardly a week goes by where I live that I don’t hear about a meth manufacturing bust or an exploding house trailer somewhere.

    Does the stupid law affect this? Not that I can tell. When I buy pseudoephedrine containing products at the local store, they whip out a big binder with probably a hundred pages, ask for my license, then copy down by hand (usually fairly quickly and sloppily) my info. I have no idea what happens to that info afterwords, but I suppose someone has to type it all in somewhere (as if drug costs weren’t already high enough, we have to pay employees to do this?). It doesn’t go into the system immediately (if at all). With a handwritten system, how many misspellings or “typos” mean that people who do buy meth-making quantities get missed and/or that innocent people get flagged as making too many purchases?

    On the other hand, I stopped at a gas station one morning about 4AM on the way to the airport and three young men came in and each bought two boxes of Sudafed and the clerk took their information down, then rang up my coffee and shrugged his shoulders at me. It wasn’t too hard to figure out what they were doing, but the notation in his books probably wouldn’t even contain enough information to indicate that the three of them were together.

    I realize you don’t really want to require people to rat out suspects by law, but wouldn’t it be a hell of lot more effective if this clerk just called the cops and gave them the license plate number of these guys? I’m sure it would lead to a more certain arrest than some poor teenage girl copying down my driver’s license info when my wife has a stuffy nose.

  86. Anonymous says:

    OK, she’s “duty bound” to prosecute it!
    The judge, who has a different agenda, is likewise “duty bound” to dismiss it!
    Such is life!

  87. dbisping says:

    i don’t feel too bad for grandma since she probably voted for those tough on crime politicians.

    drugs and alcohol abuse is a health problem. it’s not a criminal problem. it’s not a morality problem. it’s a health problem.

  88. IronEdithKidd says:

    WTF?!

    Since the prosecuters are elected in Indiana, how hard is it to have a recall election? I’ll sign the petition if it’s legal for me to do so.

    Giantsnowman @ 81: psudoeffedrine is a decongestant. It doesn’t cure a cold, but it helps you function by reducing your congestion.

  89. Anonymous says:

    Does this make the store that sold the cold medication an accessory to the ‘crime’?

  90. Anonymous says:

    What prevents someone from buying the two boxes at different stores? Here in Florida we’ll often have a drugstore next to a grocery, so I walk in one, buy one box, then walk in the other and buy the other box, and then I make the meth.

  91. igpajo says:

    This law is such a bunch of crap. I have 3 people in my household who take Claritin D which is a one a day pill for allergies. I can only buy one 15 tablet box of the 24 hour dose at a time. If my wife buys one and I buy one a week, we’re using that box up in 5 days time. Such a pain in the ass!

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