The "D" Is For "Desperado"

Of all the Christmas gifts my mom received, surely one that I gave her stood out as unique. It wasn't a sweater or a book ...
by | December 25, 2005

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Of all the Christmas gifts my mom received, surely one that I gave her stood out as unique. It wasn't a sweater or a book or a scarf. It was a two-month supply of Claritin D.

See, my mom lives in Tennessee, one of over 35 states that have enacted legislation to limit the sale of cold medicines and decongestants because they are essential to the production of meth. I, however, live in Washington, DC, where there's no restrictions on how much one can buy.

My mom's no meth producer (as far as I know). But she does like to take a daily decongestant to clear her sinuses. According to her, before Tennessee enacted the legislation, she was able to buy unlimited amounts of Claritin D over the counter. Now, she can only buy it from the pharmacist himself, and she has to show ID.  And she can only get a 10-day supply at a time.

After learning about this a couple months ago, I decided that a supply of decongestants would make a great (if not very traditional) holiday gift. So last Friday, I found myself in the security line at Reagan National Airport, my bag stuffed with several boxes of "contraband." I tried to appear nonchalant, but I was sweating at the possibility that a security agent might rifle through my carry-on and discover the stash. Somehow I thought "They're for my mom" wouldn't make a very convincing excuse.

Nervously I put my bag on the conveyor, and walked through the metal detector. I cautiously picked up my bag at the end of the line, and began walking away. I did it! The drugs were safe! No one was going to accuse me (or my mom) of cooking meth in the basement!

My career as a bootlegger, though, might be short-lived. Congress is considering legislation that would restrict decongestant and cold medicine sales everywhere. Then, what would be the point of smuggling pharmaceuticals out of DC?

On the other hand, I've now tasted the sweet elixer of being an outlaw. And once you've experienced that rush, it's hard to go back.

Zach Patton | Executive Editor | zpatton@governing.com