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Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

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Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Old 09-29-09, 04:48 PM
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Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

This is just plain dumb.


http://www.tribstar.com/local/local_...ces_printstory

Wabash Valley woman didn’t realize second cold medicine purchase violated drug laws

By Lisa Trigg

The Tribune-Star

CLINTON September 03, 2009 10:58 pm

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.
Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won’t endure the same embarrassment she still is facing.

“This is a very traumatic experience,” Harpold said.

Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.

When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. But through a deferral program offered by Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander, the charge could be wiped from Harpold’s record by mid-September.

Harpold’s story is one that concerns some law-abiding citizens who fear that innocent people will get mistakenly caught in the net of meth abuse roundups.
But the flip side of the story comes from the law enforcement arena, which is battling a resurgence in methamphetamine production in the Wabash Valley.
As the 12th-smallest county in the state, Vermillion County ranked as the state’s fifth-largest producer of methamphetamine just a few years ago.
“I don’t want to go there again,” Alexander told the Tribune-Star, recalling how the manufacture and abuse of methamphetamine ravaged the tiny county and its families.

While the law was written with the intent of stopping people from purchasing large quantities of drugs to make methamphetamine, the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.

“The law does not make this distinction,” Alexander said.

If the law said “with intent to manufacture methamphetamine,” no one could be arrested until it was proven that the drug actually was used to make meth, the prosecutor said.

And that certainly wasn’t the intent of the law, either. It was written to limit access to the key ingredient in meth — pseudoephedrine — and thereby to stop the clandestine “mom and pop” meth labs that were cooking drugs throughout the area.

Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.
“I’m simply enforcing the law as it was written,” Alexander said.

Pharmacies post “Meth Watch” signs, alerting customers that their purchases of drugs containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are being monitored. Pharmacies also are required to submit a list of purchase records to police, who then examine the lists for violations of the law.

It is up to customers to pay attention to their purchase amounts, and to check medication labels, Alexander said.

“If you take these products, you ought to know what’s in them,” she said.
While many people know that Sudafed, Actifed and Claritin-D contain pseudoephedrine, there are many more over-the-counter medications that also contain the key meth ingredient.

Ron Vencel, a pharmacist with JR Pharmacies in Terre Haute, said consumers should check all drug labels, and notes that any drug that has a “D” after it, for “decongestant,” has a likelihood of containing pseudoephedrine, or PSE.
Vencel has worked with area police to help curb the sale of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine to people buying it as a meth ingredient, and he offered insight into some of the purchasers.

As authorities and retailers have limited the sale of PSE, some meth-makers have resorted to asking their relatives and friends, who are unaware of the intended use of the product, to go buy the cold medicine. That has put some innocent people unwittingly into the cycle of meth production. And a buyer may call five or six different people to go buy the cold medicine, thereby circumventing the law.

Harpold, who is employed at the Rockville Correctional Facility for women, feels her reputation has been damaged by the arrest, and that she has been wrongly labeled as someone who makes meth.

Her police mug shot ran on the front page of her local newspaper, she wrote, in a letter to the Tribune-Star, “with an article entitled, ‘17 Arrested in Drug Sweep.’”

“That is something I have never been involved in,” she said of meth.
When she told her co-workers about the arrest, she said, they could not believe it. They have been supportive of her, she said, and other friends in the community have tried to help stop the misinformation that has spread because of the arrest.

The morning she was arrested, Harpold and her husband were awakened by police officers banging on the front door of their home at Midway along U.S. 36. She was allowed to get dressed, and was then taken in handcuffs to the Clinton Police Department, where she was questioned about her cold medicine purchases. She was later booked into jail, and her husband had to pay $300 bail to get her released.

Harpold said she did go talk to the prosecutor about the situation, and Alexander offered her the deferral program, in which Harpold is required to pay the court costs, abide by all laws and not be arrested for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, the class-C misdemeanor will be erased from her record.
Alexander said she is working with Harpold about the charge, but the prosecutor asserts that Harpold did break the law with her purchases and is being held accountable.

“I do want people to know that we will check the pharmacy records and we will prosecute people who violate this law,” Alexander said.

Vermillion County Sheriff Bob Spence said he also is willing to help Harpold overcome the negative situation.

“If there’s any way we can help her, we will,” Spence said.

He explained that the process leading to Harpold’s arrest involved an officer checking area pharmacy purchase records, and coming up with about 40 purchases that violated the law.

That information was then taken to the prosecutor, whose staff drew up the probable cause affidavits to be filed in court. A judge then found probable cause and issued arrest warrants, and the sheriff’s department is required by statute to see that the warrants are served.

Harpold was not arrested by Vermillion County officers, Spence stressed, since her residence is in Parke County. But she was returned to Clinton where she was questioned and processed.

Spence agreed with pharmacist Vencel’s scenario that the people making the meth often send other people to buy the medicine. And Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel, who recently renewed efforts to track pseudoephedrine sales in the Wabash Valley, understands Harpold’s arrest is embarrassing for her.
“Sometimes mistakes happen,” Marvel said. “It’s unfortunate. But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect.

“I feel for her, but if she could go to one of the area hospitals and see a baby born to a meth-addicted mother …”

For now, Harpold is hoping to raise public awareness so others will avoid the stress she is going through. She has written to state lawmakers and to U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh and Congressman Brad Ellsworth about changing the law.

So far, only Lugar has responded to her letter, she said, but she will continue to pursue the issue.

“I just don’t want this to happen to other people.”
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Old 09-29-09, 04:51 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

I believe 5 years is a suitable sentence.
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Old 09-29-09, 04:53 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Move along, just collateral damage in the War on Drugs.
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Old 09-29-09, 04:55 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

If she didn't want to get arrested, she never should have had a family.
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Old 09-29-09, 05:55 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

This isn't necessarily a reason to legalize drugs, but it's a really good reason to look at the facts of a case before we start indiscriminately prosecute people.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:07 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

While the law was written with the intent of stopping people from purchasing large quantities of drugs to make methamphetamine, the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.
Government making laws without thinking? Well, I never.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:17 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

What's the point of even jailing her? Pharmacies should be allowed to have a "kill button" that they hit once someone picks up a second bottle of Robitussin.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:25 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by The Bus View Post
What's the point of even jailing her? Pharmacies should be allowed to have a "kill button" that they hit once someone picks up a second bottle of Robitussin.
Easier solution: every second bottle of "Robitussin" is actually posion.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:34 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by The Bus View Post
What's the point of even jailing her? Pharmacies should be allowed to have a "kill button" that they hit once someone picks up a second bottle of Robitussin.
I remember a couple of years back, my wife was suffering from a severe cold, and I went to Costco to pick up the deluxe boxes of Nyquil and Dayquil, and they wouldn't sell me both. I'm just amazed that they monitor this activity across stores and over a week. And the article even says that these drug makers get unsuspecting people to go buy the stuff for them, which circumvents this anyway.

How do they id these people (if they pay with cash), and what stops them from using a fake id to make the additional purchases?

But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect
I would like to see the statistics showing that meth addiction is down because of this law.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:41 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Meth ceased to become a problem within 6-8 weeks of this law being put in the books. How do I know that? No one I know is on meth.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:46 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by The Bus View Post
Meth ceased to become a problem within 6-8 weeks of this law being put in the books. How do I know that? No one I know is on meth.
But everyone was using it before the law was put out, right? I'm convinced!

Maybe they have statistics on "babies born to meth-addicted mothers" since they apparently have some in every hospital in the area.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:49 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by crazyronin View Post
Government making laws without thinking? Well, I never.
The article implies that they did think it through. The law was intentionally written that way to make it easier to prosecute offenders without having to prove the intent.

Originally Posted by The Bus View Post
What's the point of even jailing her? Pharmacies should be allowed to have a "kill button" that they hit once someone picks up a second bottle of Robitussin.
The article says that the pharmacies send the information to law enforcement who then cross-check the lists. There's no constant link between pharmacies to know how many bottles someone has purchased at another store. Also, I'm against giving pharmacies the legal authority to kill their customers.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
How do they id these people (if they pay with cash), and what stops them from using a fake id to make the additional purchases?
I don't know the details of this state, but in most places with these types of laws you do need to show ID now even if you are paying with cash. That doesn't solve the fake ID problem, of course.

Last edited by WallyOPD; 09-29-09 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:55 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

It just seems odd because, especially after the first large bust, you'd only get the really, really stupid criminals to bite, and even if the poorly run meth labs had no means of getting a fake id or having other gang members buy the stuff, they could just buy it, oh, I dunno, every 8 days.
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Old 09-29-09, 06:57 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

So now they are arresting people for buying stuff that might be used for criminal activity. No problems there.
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Old 09-29-09, 07:05 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
It just seems odd because, especially after the first large bust, you'd only get the really, really stupid criminals to bite, and even if the poorly run meth labs had no means of getting a fake id or having other gang members buy the stuff, they could just buy it, oh, I dunno, every 8 days.
I think it's really only designed to stop the mom and pop meth producers. There's only so many times they can ask their cousin to buy cold medicine for them before he catches on. Also, they could certainly only buy it every 8 days but that's not really going to be enough to support a meth lab.

For larger criminal organizations they can still buy larger quantities by spreading the purchases around their lackies, but it's still going to be a lot more hassle for less production than they would have had before the law was put into effect.

Disclaimer: I think these laws are terrible and should be repealed. The purchase of these ingredients has a legitimate and legal use. You shouldn't turn ordinary citizens into criminals just because it makes it easier to catch the bad guys as well.
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Old 09-29-09, 07:07 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

60 days in the hole
That's what they give you now
60 days in the hole
Oh, yeah
60 days in the hole
All right, all right
60 days in the hole

What you doin' girl?
You here for 60 days
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Old 09-29-09, 07:26 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse View Post
60 days in the hole
That's what they give you now
60 days in the hole
Oh, yeah
60 days in the hole
All right, all right
60 days in the hole

What you doin' girl?
You here for 60 days
Well she was a greasy whore and I'm sure there was a rolling dance floor somewhere in her house.
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Old 09-30-09, 05:56 AM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Harpold said she did go talk to the prosecutor about the situation, and Alexander offered her the deferral program, in which Harpold is required to pay the court costs, abide by all laws and not be arrested for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, the class-C misdemeanor will be erased from her record.
Alexander said she is working with Harpold about the charge, but the prosecutor asserts that Harpold did break the law with her purchases and is being held accountable.
Gee, thanks Ms. Prosecutor. Good to know you're earning your salary with stupid shit like this.
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Old 09-30-09, 10:16 AM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.
“I’m simply enforcing the law as it was written,” Alexander said.
I nominate this guy for douche of the year. I think every prosecutor who utters those words as an excuse for royally screwing a law abiding person's life should be shot in the crotch.
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Old 09-30-09, 10:37 AM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
I nominate this guy for douche of the year. I think every prosecutor who utters those words as an excuse for royally screwing a law abiding person's life should be shot in the crotch.
Yeah and aside from that, it's also bullshit. Prosecutors decide what cases to prosecute and which to not ALL THE TIME. It's kind of their job.
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Old 09-30-09, 11:08 AM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
Yeah and aside from that, it's also bullshit. Prosecutors decide what cases to prosecute and which to not ALL THE TIME. It's kind of their job.
This is why I find the excuse so infuriating. If you are going to pursue these kinds of cases, sac up and tell the truth: that you are padding your “drug conviction” numbers.
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Old 09-30-09, 11:19 AM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
I remember a couple of years back, my wife was suffering from a severe cold, and I went to Costco to pick up the deluxe boxes of Nyquil and Dayquil, and they wouldn't sell me both. I'm just amazed that they monitor this activity across stores and over a week.
Some states require stores to keep track of everyone who buys ephedrine products. If the store puts the info into a computer, it's trivial for them to cross-check.
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Old 09-30-09, 01:02 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

I love how the law is only iron clad in situations like this. With giant cases things pretty much seem to be ambiguous, but in an instance like this? "Yeah I feel for her, but the law is the law. She should go see what meth babies look like." I mean, WTF?
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Old 09-30-09, 02:24 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

any pics of the mug shot? So i can make an informed decision if she should indeed spend 60 days in the slammer, or go cold free
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Old 10-01-09, 12:33 PM
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Re: Woman could get 60 days in jail for buying 2 bottles of cold medicine.

Originally Posted by Rypro 525 View Post
any pics of the mug shot? So i can make an informed decision if she should indeed spend 60 days in the slammer, or go cold free
If she and her family were cold-free the whole mess would have been avoided.
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