Plans to spy on Georgia consumers who purchase cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine and prescription drugs, are closer to becoming a reality. Legislation is expected to be filed shortly to set up a searchable database accessible to law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
Rep. Tom Weldon of Ringgold who plans on filing the legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives, recently complained to a Dalton newspapers that, “[w]e don’t have a searchable database that sheriffs and law enforcement can go in and see who has been buying meth products and who has been buying an excessive amount of pills.”
Weldon claims the legislature will be mindful of the privacy of law-abiding citizens, though he offers no details as to how this will be accomplished. Compiling a large database that essentially treats all users of prescription drugs and cold remedies as if they were criminals, is itself not a project respectful of the privacy of law-abiding citizens. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that the proposed database will be in the hands of government – an entity not known for winning gold stars when it comes to respecting the privacy of citizens. The fact that Georgia will stand to receive federal taxpayer dollars if it in fact institutes the database the federal government desires, makes it even more suspect.
Despite the push for this privacy-infringing tracking system, a recent report by the Associated Press notes similar databases in other states have accomplished little in solving the meth problem; illicit producers of meth simply find ever-more creative ways to circumvent the laws. The report also points out that “meth-related activity is on the rise again nationally, up 34 percent in 2009.”
On this unsurprising news, Radley Balko, senior editor of Reason magazine, writes, “… the new laws are inconveniencing law-abiding people who want to treat cold and allergy symptoms, have had either zero or a positive effect on meth use, have lured new people into the meth trade, and have created a bigger market for smuggling meth and meth ingredients into the country from Mexico.”
The laws are not a deterrence for prospective drug users or traffickers. They are an inconvenience to law-abiding citizens who simply want to go to a drug store or supermarket, pick-up medication that will help them deal with their illness, and not be hassled by nanny-statists clamoring for federal dollars and searching for more creative ways to database individual behavior.
- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code