One of my first jobs was at a small town pharmacy, where some of the hard drugs were kept in a safe, and the most shoplifted items were razor blade refills and copies of Hustler from the newsrack (I knew one kid who’d slide a copy into the middle of the New York Times thinking we never noticed).
So I was surprised when I walked into a Hollywood Rite-Aid and had to ask why the Sudafed was behind the counter and locked behind glass.
The pharmacist, in his driest attempt at sarcasm, said, “Its because of all the meth labs in the middle of Hollywood.”
He continued, more honestly, to explain that it was State law – because pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in many common anti-allergy and cold medications, was also a main component to make “meth”, pharmacies were not only required to keep it locked up, but that anyone who wanted to buy a box had to show i.d. and sign a log.
“Not only that,” he added with a growl, “The police can come in anytime to see the log – no questions asked.”
Without a doubt, meth use has been epidemic in Los Angeles. While the streets of Hollywood are filled with addicts, I’ve known a handful of people who you’d associate with perhaps a higher class of drug that have fallen victim to meth addiction (included. a few years ago, one well know temp agent).
Perhaps in part due to the above mentioned restrictions on obtaining the key ingredients, the LAPD will be announcing today that there has been a dramatic decrease in the availability of methamphatamines in Los Angeles. The Daily Breeze reports more details, including the contrary finding that meth use among teenage girls appears to have risen in the same period.
As for privacy rights – I don’t know anyone who’s concerned they can’t buy their cold medication anonymously, but its still ground that should be treaded lightly.