As of January first, California won’t be selling cough syrup to minors under the age of 18, thanks to the “robotripping” law proposed by two Palo Alto cops back in 2004. But, especially coming on the heels of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to make Plan B unavailable to minors without prescription, it seems ridiculous that this is only getting passed in California. If the HHS doesn’t think Plan B is safe for teens (despite ample evidence–from the FDA–that it is), then why should anyone be selling drugs that are easily turned into dangerous illegal drugs?
The law will prohibit sale of drugs containing dextromethorphan (DXM), an active ingredient in many cough syrups that’s safe at medically advised quantities, but acts as a powerful dissociative drug when abused. Though some states and drug stores chains have tried to curb recreational use of the drug by requiring ID and signatures to track and limit sales, only a few states have made it illegal to sell to minors, and it’s also been kept of the Controlled Substances Act.
Back in 2004, when the Californian law was first proposed, few were aware of the recreational use of DXM. But since then, abuse in teens younger than 17 has gone up by 850%, according to the California Poison Control System. Teens aren’t the only ones abusing the drug–earlier this year, a woman was arrested for attempting to make meth with drugs in a Tulsa, Oklahoma Walmart–but most state laws pertaining to DXM are focused around minors.
Like Plan B, kids 17 or under will be able to get cough syrup via prescription if they really need it. But if the HHS deems it unsafe for the entire country to have Plan B on drugstore shelves, then why should any state have DXM drugs available over-the-counter at all? I hope Kathleen Sebelius can straighten out her drug priorities in 2012.