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Nasal Congestion Sufferer Arrested for Buying Too Much Cold Medicine

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The drug war’s mindless persecution of sick people goes beyond medical marijuana:

MASON CITY — Gary Schinagel has suffered from chronic nasal congestion from the time he was a youngster.

When he was a child growing up in Sheffield his family doctor told him, “Gary, this is something you’ll be dealing with all your life.”

Little did he know.

Last Wednesday, Schinagel, 47, a senior investment associate at Principal Financial Group in Mason City, was arrested for the illegal purchase of pseudoephedrine. [Globe Gazette]

Arrested for buying cold medicine. It’s happened before, too. Can you even imagine how many cold sufferers have declined to purchase cold medicine for fear of having their door kicked in by the cops?

If you don’t know about things like this, you don’t fully understand what the drug war does. The real drug war consists of the accumulation of every mindblowingly absurd outcome our policies have produced. It’s not just a game of cops and robbers. It’s a philosophy that corrupts our consciousness, permeates our policymaking, and eventually results in completely normal and innocent people being arrested all the time for some of the stupidest reasons one could possibly imagine.

Also: On a very related note, this weekend CVS wouldn't sell Radley Balko the medicine he needed.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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It's amazing how many people

It's amazing how many people blindly defend this absurd law in the comments section. Very few even think to question the reasoning behind the law in the first place, they just assume "the law was passed with good intentions and this guy is a necessary sacrifice for the greater good." Granted, a website comment board is not the best place for intellectual debate, but you have to expect a bare minimum of thought at least.

borden's picture

this one hits home

This one hits home. Not that I use Sudafed very often, but that's just a personal choice. I could, and when I do resort to it I really can use it.

I did buy some a few months back, and I half considered requesting a hundred boxes, just to see what would happen. I decided not to because I rent a part of a house, and my landlords upstairs have pets who might have gotten shot if my cold medicine purchase triggered a SWAT raid.

I did have to give them my name and so forth, so I guess if I wasn't on a list before from activism, I probably am now from buying one box of Sudafed in a year's time.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC


I suffer from sinus headaches brought about by seasonal allergies and barometric pressure change. The initial headaches are obnoxious, but they are merely a warning signal of an impending migraine. If I take a couple Sudafed upon first feeling the pressure, I can prevent the migraine entirely. However, with my police record and my occasional signature at the local pharmacy, I'm sure I'm on a list of potential manufacturers of Crystal Methamphetamine.

The irony of the situation is that if I were to go to a physician and describe my migraine symptoms, he would write me a prescription for one of a number of high-potency, opiate-based, narcotic analgesics such as Vicodin, Percocet, Ultram, etc.

This country is in the throws of a prescription pharmaceurical epidemic, and yet it is more risky to take cheaper and safer preventative measures than it is to get hooked on high-class smack.

- JJ

Story Originally Done by Colleen O'Shaughnessy

Colleen O'Shaughnessy of KIMT (Mason City CBS Channel 3 in Iowa) and she broke the story immediately. The Globe Gazette picked up the story a week later. And the Globe Gazette is the original source of listing all the names of everyone with an warrant! I pity the Globe. It was sickining to see a list of 41 names and then to have the Globe say when warrants were issued, the police discovered a meth lab...and there is poor Gary on this list! He had to clear his name, and hopefully was successful! I love Colleen and her news director for taking this issue on immediately, and coming to the aid of the "innocent of being a meth manufacturer" but guilty somehow of a crazy glich in the law.

Thanks bunches for letting me air this disgust I have in my local "news" paper!


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