Drug use, especially meth, carries with it a stigma that can cause addicts to lose jobs, homes, and family support. But imagine if after serving your sentence and getting clean and sober, the cashier at the pharmacist could still label you as a user and refuse to serve you. That’s exactly what a new law passed by the Michigan legislature will do starting in 2015.
The Methamphetamine Abuse Reporting Act will create a registry of anyone convicted of a methamphetamine-related offense in the past 10 years. That registry will be maintained by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) and will be distributed to pharmacies through a national precursor log exchange (NPLEx).
Convicted meth users will be prohibited from purchasing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, regardless of their recovery status. Should they try, the NPLEx will be designed to throw a “stop-sale alert” to the cashier, informing them that the person standing in front of them is a drug user. The act makes it a crime to sell to anyone whose ID triggers a “stop-sale alert” unless the cashier fears imminent bodily harm.
A related law will also prohibit the sale of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to anyone under 18 years of age and put caps on the amount of medicine any person can buy per day or per month without a prescription.
This is not the first time Michigan has used a public registry to try and solve a perceived risk to public safety. the Sex Offender Registry Act creates a database of offenders convicted of a variety of sexually-related offenses that is searchable by the general public. For years, the database did nothing to distinguish repeat pedophiles from streakers.
The result of this registry was enormous – stigmatizing sex-offenders and affecting their abilities to get and maintain jobs or houses. It also made public a very private and often humiliating aspect of those people’s lives. While the courts have held that the registry was not a punishment but instead a public service, for people on the list, the negative effect was huge.
Now the Michigan Legislature is doing the same thing to drug users, branding them with a scarlet letter and denying them access to basic medical supplies.
There is no question that methamphetamine use is dangerous and that it is in the public’s interest to reduce its production and use. But is it so inconceivable that a former meth user may have an allergy or get a cold sometime after they become sober? Even if a person is still struggling with addiction, shouldn’t they be entitled to the medical care they need? There must be some more narrowly tailored way to reduce methamphetamine production and use rather than forcing users to wear a label for 10 years.
Drug convictions are no laughing matter. They can stack up and result in serious consequences. If you know someone facing controlled substance charges, have them contact attorney Lisa J. Schmidt for a consultation.