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I have allergies, not a drug problem
February 16, 2011 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Is my wife going to get arrested as a meth maker? Anything I can do to stop it?

I live in Illinois.

I am a user of Claritin D as is my wife. Often we have to take turns picking up the medicine so as to avoid the hassles with the law about pseudoephedrine.

My wife went to get some today and was refused, being told she had purchased 7.6 grams of the drug between Jan 16 and Feb 16 and the limit within 30 days is 3.5 grams

As we have allergies, we aren't drug dealers, we have no idea how many grams of pseudoephedrine are in Claritin D. The last time she purchased any was Superbowl Sunday though we don't know if maybe my purchases count as well as we live in the same house?

Going online we read an account of a woman who had the police arrest her in the night for a "mom and pop meth lab" she didn't have for this very thing and now we are very worried. The police are welcome to search our house, they'll find nothing. We have all our teeth, we aren't on meth, we don't make meth...we just are two people with bad allergies.

Obviously I'm panicking at this point...is there anything we can do but wait and see if the police come pounding to arrest us? Is that likely to happen?
posted by arniec to Law & Government (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Update -- my wife now tells me that it says this specifically:

"Thirty day history of purchases between 1/16/2011 and 2/16/2011 2:58 PM CDT, records show you had 3 purchase(s) totaling 7.2 grams. Federal CMEA laws limit purchases to 9.0 grams per 30 days"

So she didn't get any drugs and thus didn't go over the limit, but she tried to get more. Does that matter?
posted by arniec at 1:26 PM on February 16, 2011


I asked this exact question a while back. (I was also in Illinois at the time.) I never heard a word about it from the cops or anyone else. I would assume your wife will be ok!
posted by craichead at 1:26 PM on February 16, 2011


"Claritin-D 24 Hour Extended Release Tablets (10 mg loratadine, 240 mg pseudoephedrine sulfate), a new once-daily formulation of the widely prescribed nonsedating antihistamine/decongestant combination Claritin-D (5 mg loratadine, 120 mg pseudoephedrine sulfate), has been approved for marketing."

So, figuring 240 mg/day, you're each taking 7.2 g/month. I'm guessing you just got off cycle with purchasing this time and hit the monthly limit. I doubt the cops will be beating down your door for this, especially since it doesn't sound like you've been trying to evade the limit (driving to different stores, fake IDs, whatever).
posted by momus_window at 1:28 PM on February 16, 2011


It might make you feel better to get the phone number of a good criminal defense attorney and put it on speed dial in case anything happens. Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction as to whether possession of a certain amount of precursor substances is unlawful.

Even though you have nothing to hide, my experience as a criminal defense attorney has taught me that it's never a good idea to make statements to cops (YT link to an excellent lecture by a law professor and a cop as to why you should not talk to the police) when you're a potential target of an investigation, and that you should never ever waive your right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures.

In your position, I would not worry much about a no-knock warrant being served in the middle of the night. You just can't stay awake at night worrying about what some moron with a badge might do with what's possibly only a violation of some arbitrary drug store policy.

You should probably get a prescription from your doctor, even if it's just for Claritin D (if it gives relief) for yourself and your wife--that might help avoid the issue you're both having.
posted by Hylas at 1:34 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really doubt there will be police at your door. I am sure this happens all the time. Now if you went around to every pharmacy that you could find to try to get some then maybe. But still, if the police do come, what will happen? They will ask to look around your house, find nothing, and leave. Be nice to them and be calm. And wow, don't worry so much.
posted by d4nj450n at 1:37 PM on February 16, 2011


they'll try to scare you, but i think the chances of you or her being arrested in the night are slim. after i got the cops called on me for nearly this exact scenario, i had my doctor prescribe it. no issues since.

as an aside, my doctor also put me on flonase and i've had to take claritin D maybe 5 times since then (6 months ago or so). i still pop regular claritin like tic-tacs, but the flonase takes care of all the D stuff.
posted by nadawi at 1:40 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is a teensy amount of pseudoephedrine. You're fine.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:59 PM on February 16, 2011


This happens to me all the time because I really need the Claritin D to make my meth for my allergies, but never keep track of when/how much I last bought.

They just refuse to sell it to me -- in fact they are usually apologetic and empathetic about it. No police raids. A couple of times they've even suggested I try to buy a smaller package, which has worked.

(BTW, flonase is awesome, but prohibitively expensive if you don't have medical insurance. Seriously, it's like over $100 for one inhaler.)
posted by trip and a half at 2:06 PM on February 16, 2011


so true about the cost. i didn't have insurance for like 10 years. it was only after getting insurance that i could consider it. even the generic is like 80 something a bottle.
posted by nadawi at 2:09 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Often we have to take turns picking up the medicine so as to avoid the hassles with the law about pseudoephedrine.

Yeah, don't do this. What you and I might consider "avoiding the hassles with the law" might be viewed through another lens as "indication of criminal activity".

I'm sure nothing will come of this. But in the future make sure you keep track of your purchases. You probably do not want to have this happen repeatedly in a short span.
posted by Justinian at 2:29 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can buy flonase (generic version) from a certain online Indian pharmacy for about 15 bucks.

I buy my CFC free albuterol inhalers there for less than four dollars each.
posted by cinemafiend at 2:33 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obviously I'm panicking at this point...is there anything we can do but wait and see if the police come pounding to arrest us?

Since she didn't actually exceed the limit, it seems less likely that the police are going to be called than that the pharmacy invoked its policy of cutting people off when they get "too near" the limit for the pharmacy's own comfort. Many pharmacies set their own boundaries lower than the actual legal limit, just to cushion their own potential liability.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:35 PM on February 16, 2011


Attempting to purchase over the limit once should not be an issue. Especially if you didn't "shop around" to see if you could buy it at another store.

But if you are worried about this in the future... get a prescription. Your doctor won't have a problem writing a scrip for an OTC medication - in fact, this is required (as of 2011) if you want to be reimbursed by a healthcare flexible spending account. This will provide proof of medical necessity if you ever get a nighttime visitor.
posted by m@f at 2:37 PM on February 16, 2011


If she had gone to five other pharmacies immediately afterwards, you might get a visit from the authorities. I doubt anyone has time to follow up on a single blip, but if they did you're already doing the one thing that'll keep you from getting arrested for making meth: not making meth.

(I have no idea why people by Whatever-D and have to deal with this methmath instead of buying the ginormous box of DrugstorePhed, which will hold two people without exceeding the limit and probably costs half. But in any case, methmakers don't really want Whatever-D so accidentally approaching the limit is not a big flag.)
posted by Lyn Never at 2:43 PM on February 16, 2011


I have no idea why people by Whatever-D and have to deal with this methmath instead of buying the ginormous box of DrugstorePhed, which will hold two people without exceeding the limit and probably costs half.

Everyone I know with allergies says that the phenylephrine (the non-meth-able replacement to pseudoephedrine) is crap and doesn't work nearly as well.
posted by momus_window at 2:53 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This has happened to me more than once. Unless this country is going down the tubes even faster than we thought, I'm sure you'll be fine. I bet this happens to hundreds of innocent allergy-ridden people every day.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:57 PM on February 16, 2011


Often we have to take turns picking up the medicine so as to avoid the hassles with the law about pseudoephedrine.

Yeah, don't do this. What you and I might consider "avoiding the hassles with the law" might be viewed through another lens as "indication of criminal activity".


They should be able to do it if they want to. It's not illegal for a husband to pick up meds for his wife and vice versa.
posted by Jess the Mess at 3:04 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The police won't be able to get a warrant until they can show probable cause that you're involved in meth-making. Since there is a very obvious legitimate reason for buying pseudoephedrine, they'll need more than you trying to buy some to convince a judge/grand jury that you're worth arresting...but there's nothing to stop them from knocking on the door and asking questions. But I really doubt they'd waste their time on this.
posted by holterbarbour at 3:15 PM on February 16, 2011


The cops would have to be pretty stupid to arrest you and/or your wife for this. Still possible, I suppose, but I wouldn't be worried.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2011


You might also try buying Claritin not-D and then try supplementing it with the fake pseudoephedrine. It doesn't work as well, but I find it works well enough except for when I'm acutely sick. Or you might try other ways of decongesting, like Mucinex and/or a Neti pot and/or a humidifier at night.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:13 PM on February 16, 2011


Even if the pharmacy had called the cops, I doubt they would have even bothered to show if they were aware you were buying Claritin-D. The overbroad (and otherwise stupid for other reasons) law is really meant to keep people from buying pills that solely contain pseudoephedrine.

The loratadine renders the process of making meth much more difficult, from my understanding.
posted by wierdo at 5:13 PM on February 16, 2011


[we don't play FTFY games in AskMe, please don't.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:16 PM on February 16, 2011


This is a bit of a side note, but the generic, over the counter Claritin homolog is ridiculously cheap at Costco. Like, $12 for 100 tablets or something. Here's their allergy page.
posted by maryr at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2011


It sounds like your pharmacy needs to recalibrate their computer program, re:

Thirty day history of purchases between 1/16/2011 and 2/16/2011 2:58 PM CDT

1/16/2011 to 2/16/2011 is 32 days. If your wife tried to make a new purchase today (2/16) the 30-day-limit should have already reset.
posted by amyms at 7:49 PM on February 16, 2011


Yes!
posted by telstar at 9:12 PM on February 16, 2011


Another good alternative is the Vicks nasal inhaler (it looks about like a chapstick.) It's made from an ingredient that is similar to meth but I've never had to get it from behind the counter or sign for it or anything.

If the cops show up (and I'm really doubting it), never speak to them without a lawyer (see the Youtube video linked earlier in the thread) and never consent to a search. You have a constitutional right to refuse a search. If they search anyways, continually repeat "I do not consent to this search."
posted by IndigoRain at 9:29 PM on February 16, 2011


Vicks Vapor Inhaler
posted by IndigoRain at 9:31 PM on February 16, 2011


Three cheers for Flonase and its generic equivalents. After *years* of being a daily pseudoephedrine-chomping sniffler, I got on a generic of fluticasone proprionate (a.k.a. Flonase) and now I never need to touch allergy medicine.

You may be able to side-step John Law by trying out a different treatment for what's wrong with your sinuses.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:46 AM on February 17, 2011


As was stated above, the police are unlikely to care about your small case, and would have difficulty getting a warrant (search or arrest) in any event.

However, have you considered getting a prescription for your Claritin-D? From reading the IL Meth Precursor Law, it appears that the monthly limits do not apply to meds dispensed pursuant to a prescription. I assume if your allergies are so bad, you have seen an allergist or ENT doc, and they presumably could write you a script.

Also, you should research rebound congestion, which is the result of pseudoephedrine extended use.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:45 AM on February 19, 2011


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