This has been annoying me for several years now. I had always figured it was a CYA move made by the stores because they didn't want to be held responsible for stocking meth labs. But yesterday I went to Target with amybang (who's in town for work) and I needed to pick up some Sudafed. And there was a huge sign on the pharmacy wall explaining that stores are required, by law, not only to control access to all medications containing pseudoephedrine, but to get a driver's license and signature from everyone who buys it. It's law, all right, and not just any law: It's part of the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act?
Yup, the Patriot Act. Because if ordinary people have clear sinuses, then the terrorists win? Not really following the logic here.
The pharmacist seemed just as irritated and disgusted as we were -- "I've been in this business for 40 years and never seen anything so ridiculous as this". He was only too happy to tell us that he's certain that he still sells cold medicine to people who are going to use it to make meth. But they follow the rules, so there's nothing he can do about it.
I bought the Sudafed anyway; it's getting to be my allergy season, and this replacement "Sudafed PE" stuff doesn't do much for me -- it works somewhat, but not nearly as well, and I sometimes get "rebound congestion" when it wears off, which never happens for me with the real stuff. In an ideal world, this would be a great incentive to get Allegra available over the counter, but given that this would cut drug company profits, I'm not exactly holding my breath.