Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bill would restrict sale of cough syrup, spraypaint

Under a bill to be considered by the OK Senate, minors under 18 wouldn't be allowed to buy certain kinds of cough syrup or spraypaint, because kids are getting "high" with them and thereby putting themselves in danger.

Yeah, that'll work. Just like the laws restricting sales of cigarettes to minors has worked so well.

Hey, why don't we put an age restriction on anything that teens might use to hurt themselves, like, oh I don't know, rope, or mouthwash, or household cleaners, or hell, caffeinated beverages? You drink enough Mountain Dew and you'll blow up your heart!!! Right...

Age restrictions are the stupidest way to prevent drug abuse. The smart way is to educate kids about the real risks and real dangers of the drugs and trust parents to guide kids to make the right decisions. I make the same argument about movie and video game ratings. Let the parents decide what their kids can watch or play; don't do a blanket restriction based on some subjective idea of what is "appropriate" for a kid to watch or play.


  1. there is one thing for which restriction has made a difference: making folks sign for cold meds at the pharmacy. it has drastically reduced the number of meth labs in this state.

    that being the case, i'm not opposed to kids having to do the same thing for cough syrup or whatever. there are already store-based restrictions on the sale of spray paint. just try, as a gentleman or woman of the street, to waltz into the downtown Home Depot and purchase a can of spray paint. not going to happen: they will shoo you out of there in an instant.

    when i worked for years in juvenile parole, given the dearth of effective tx in this state, i often went to the bunkers with the kids, thinking if i could just keep them alive until they could get some sense, get old enough to leave the dysfunctional home, become employable, etc. etc. etc. maybe things would improve.

    there's definitely a dreadful sense of invincibility that comes with being a teen. sometimes just growing up brings a wisdom that is not found at 14. i doubt if 18 is the age.

    having worked in juvenile parole and later in child welfare, i am not as hopeful about parents assuming responsibility and doing the right thing, whether that relates to educating kids about drug abuse, pregnancy prevention or supervising the kind of movies and videos they're exposed to.

    the world would be a much better place if the quality of parenting hadn't deteriorated so.

  2. You have a point, but here's a kind of a counter-point. Part of the reason why we need these restrictions is that we don't have a decent social welfare structure in place to deal with problematic family structures. You ran into that fact, I'm sure, when you were working in child welfare and parole. We need a decent set of social programs to catch teens on the way down and show them the way back up.

    Here's my position, ultimately. Citizens have a right to decide for themselves what to drink, what to smoke, what to eat, and who to have sex with, and they also have the responsibility to understand the personal and social costs of making the wrong decision. The government has the responsibility to educate and protect people against making the wrong decision, and to lift people up who do choose badly for themselves or for their kids. I'm in favor of a vigorous, active, and engaged system of social services, along with realistic sex and drug education and treatment programs, including contraceptive distribution in schools and community needle exchanges. If we plug the holes that allow teens to fall when their parents fail them, then we'll all be better off than simply putting a band aid on a problem by restricting access to something that a wiley teen is going to find a way to get anyway.