Tennessee currently holds the dubious honor of being the second biggest meth state in the country, with 1,545 reported incidents in 2013. To combat the problem, Gov. Bill Haslam is pushing a bill in the Tennessee legislature that seeks to restrict over-the-counter purchases of products containing the decongestants pseudoephedrine and ephedrine to two packages per month. Unfortunately for the governor, the state’s meth problem has little to with the accessibility of Advil Cold & Sinus and everything to do with the policy of drug prohibition, which succeeds only in creating black markets, and the futility of the War on Drugs.
If history has proven anything, it’s that the human appetite demands certain vices that no amount of legislation can curb. So long as these demands exist, other people will respond by surfacing to meet them. Alcohol prohibition paved the way for a thriving empire of organized criminals who controlled the supply and distribution of liquor on the black market and settled disputes with violence in the absence of courtroom adjudication. Moreover, prohibition created the perverse incentive for people to create dangerous homemade alternatives like bathtub gin and wood alcohol to get their buzz on. Repealing alcohol prohibition all but eliminated the incentives to produce such noxious concoctions.