Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 27, 2006, Herald Journal

Hatch’s election year gimmick


Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch, DFL, came up with an appalling idea to pay for the meth mess.

He plans to sue pharmaceutical companies because the chemicals in their cold remedies are put into the illegal stimulant methamphetamine, Hatch said Feb. 17.

Hatch said the pharmaceutical companies are “clearly dumping” pseudoephedrine and ephedrine on criminals for use in meth labs in Minnesota.

“An estimated $130 million was spent by state and local governments in Minnesota in 2004 alone to clean up toxic meth labs: to arrest, prosecute, incarcerate and treat meth offenders and to care for children they neglect and abuse,” according to the Feb. 18 Star Tribune.

In other words, Hatch wants to make the legal drug companies, who have deep pockets, pay for the mess the illegal drug makers create. Hatch wants them not only to pay now, but also for messes the criminals made in the past six years.

However, more than 80 percent of the meth used in Minnesota comes from Mexico and California. Those labs get their precursor chemicals in industrial-sized shipments from Europe and Asia, not cold medicine sold in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune.

If Hatch gets his way, will the state expect baking soda and corn starch manufacturers pay for damages created by cocaine and other white powder drugs? Drug traffickers use white powders to cut the purity of their white powder drugs before they sell them on the street.

What about syringes? Some drug users shoot heroin into their veins. Should the syringe manufacturers pay for damages caused by heroin addicts because they use the same kind of hypodermic needles diabetics use for insulin?

The first thing that will happen if Hatch’s absurd plan becomes law is the drug companies will stop making decongestant cold medicine. Next, the drug companies will raise prices on all their other products to cover the “meth mess” and legal costs.

Medicine is already expensive. I don’t want to pay more for medicine just to help Hatch get elected governor in November.

Instead, lets make the drug dealers and meth lab operators pay, not the makers of legitimate cold and allergy medicines. If the lab operators and dealers don’t have the money, make them work it off in prison, or garnish their wages when they get out.

I have always believed that people are responsible for their own behavior. Hatch’s plan punishes people who make a legitimate product because other people are misusing it. It is the worst kind of election year gimmick.

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