Sudafed Head: Indiana Women Arrested for Buying Two Over-The-Counter Medicines Within a Week

Pros1Sally Harpold is a Sudafed Head . . . or is she an Actifed Head? Well, the important thing is that she has been finally locked away in Clinton, Indiana where she was caught buying two cold medicines within seven days. Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander (left) racked up the major coup four months after the purchases and charged her with violating 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.

What is amazing is that Harpold thought that she could get away with this. Here is her crime spree: she bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy and then less than seven days later she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy — a total of 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Not only is the grandmother of triplets a criminal in the eyes of Alexander but she is an enabler pushing cold medicine on her family. Police have been able to learn the “drug signals” in the family — usually members with cough repeatedly to signal their need for another fix.

Alexander charged her with a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. She is willing to expunge the crime from her record, if Harpold pays the court costs, stays clean for 30 days, and presumably comes to terms with “her problem.”

What is astonishing is that officials expect citizens to calculate their amounts of the pseudoephedrine in over-the-counter drugs, but as the list below shows there are about 1000 such products that you might buy containing the substance. People are expected to drag themselves with the flu to the store and then calculate the exact amount of the substance in purchases over the last week. Alexander, however, blames pushers like Harpold: “If you take these products, you ought to know what’s in them.”

ZyrtecD01The law itself is obviously poorly written. The burden and expectation for the consumers to track these amounts is unrealistic. Stores may be barred from sales to individuals, but either take these products off the market or regulate sales through the stores. Criminalizing a population of sneezing, coughing citizens is not the solution.

One would at least expect police and particularly prosecutors to show some common sense and discretion. Even though Vermillion County ranked as the state’s fifth-largest producer of methamphetamine and this is viewed as a law to combat such production, one can make simple and obvious judgments in cases like this.

Alexander, however, appears to protect her office against the ravages of discretion or common sense. She insisted “[t]he law does not make this distinction. . . I’m simply enforcing the law as it was written.” Well, there are lots of laws that fail to make distinctions but prosecutors are not required to charge in every case. Prosecutors are not robots. They play a role in the system of justice to avoid injustice.

In Harpold case, the police came for her four months after her purchases in the middle of the night. She was thrown in jail and eventually released on bond.

For those of you who do not want to land in an Indiana jail with a head cold, here is the list of roughly 1000 medicines sold over the counter that are covered by these laws.

For the full story, click here.

52 thoughts on “Sudafed Head: Indiana Women Arrested for Buying Two Over-The-Counter Medicines Within a Week”

  1. con·gress(kŏng’grĭs) – a pseudo-intelligent group of people who create complicated solutions for simple problems, and simple solutions for complicated problems, with the sole purpose of getting them reelected by self-dealing sections of the general voting populace.

  2. The real travesty is that there is a law for this to begin with. If they wanted to stop the abuse then why not make it a prescription medication?

    If you need it then a doctor can prescribe it for you. If you have seasonal allergies then the doc can perform tests and give you a prescription for an extended period of time.

    Of course some people would take advantage of this system, but it probably wouldn’t be as many and innocent people wouldn’t be getting prosecuted.

    This is another fallacy of reasoning in our legal system in believing that because something is written into law it is ethical. Ethics and law are two independent variable from each other and shouldn’t be misconstrued as interdependent.

    Of course, ethics should guide the formation of laws but more often it is the overzealous nature of politicians that govern the creation of such abominations to people’s personal liberties.

  3. “That’s the product of a “gov’t” (public) school system.”

    David W. Murdoch,
    I disagree. To me it is a problem of people who too often fail to question authority and a legal system that rewards people who use their legal authority to advance their political careers. Those I can think of for instance would include J.Edgar Hoover, Tom Dewey, Estes Kefauver, George Bush, Rick Perry and Rudolph Guiliani. Those just reflect the national political scene, on the local level there are hundreds if not thousands more.

    ‘It only takes one person with a little common sense to rectify a wrongfully prosecuted case. I’d much rather put my hands in an EDUCATED jury than in the hands of an unjust system.”

    While the sentiment is true, the reality is that juries put far too much credence in prosecutors and LEO’s

  4. FF Leo,

    Again I think that more “Agency’s” need people such as yourself serving rather than the absurdity that we have today. The underlying thread is indicative of Bull Shit laws and selective enforcement.

  5. In such instances, ‘de jure’ must succumb to ‘de facto’ reasoning by any fair-minded and just juries of any of these “Sudafed cases” that advance to jury trial.

    For most of my adult life, I have opposed de facto jury nullifications, although mine was a vague understanding based on my preference to see enforcement of the ‘letter of the law’ once a case went to trial.

    As I grew older, I gained a greater appreciation for prosecutors and judges using their discretionary powers just as I did as an LEO, which I frequently exercised, although some would—and some did—say that I had no right to be a judge and jury in any case.

    In the final analysis, the proper application of the law is to mete justice and not to persecute citizens through a mindless adherence of enforcing legal dogma, often founded on bureaucratic gobbledygook.

  6. I agree w/ the uniformity issue….it is, however, apparently just as uniform as the prosecutors taking their responsibilities seriously. As I indicated, it is the “last bastion” when lawmakers, law keepers, and the justice system has abondoned us.

    It only takes one person with a little common sense to rectify a wrongfully prosecuted case. I’d much rather put my hands in an EDUCATED jury than in the hands of an unjust system.

    People have to realize what jury nullification is. Most people I talk to don’t know anything about it, and many that do don’t believe it’s “right” to use it…Too many of us have been “indoctrinated” into believing that the law is the law and MUST be followed, that the gov’t is “The Boss”…

    That’s the product of a “gov’t” (public) school system.

  7. The problem with jury nullification is that it can never be uniform and is based on the makeup of a jury. Does anyone doubt that a given jury would want to throw the book at this woman and recommend the most severe penalties, while another would vote innocent right after the door to the jury room had closed?

  8. It’s time jury members started using “Jury Nullification” to counter these oppressive acts of gov’t…..Jury Nullification is the last bastion of freedom / justice for a citizenry being oppressed by a gov’t which issues unjust laws. Each case should be prosecuted and judged by the common law premise of “damage / harm done”….who was damaged, financially or otherwise……Then again, common law assumes common sense….

  9. “Laws restricting the sale of pseudophedrine are not there to stop people from abusing pseudophedrine – only an idiot would try that because it doesn’t get you high. They are there to prevent people from buying large amounts in order to manufacture methamphetamine and they actually have been quite effective in that sense.”

    That’s wrong, there are still huge quantities of meth available all over the country, even it seems in Wausilla, Alaska. These laws can have only two major effects:

    1. To characterize and prosecute non-criminals for non-crimes through stupidly over zealous regulations.

    2. To increase the price of meth making more profit for the dealers and causing addicts to “hustle” (commit more crimes/scams) to pay for their habit. The War on Drugs” was a lost cause from day one of its’ inception simply because “Prohibition” in this country actually created more lawlessness and enriched/enlarged organized crime. The War on Drugs has accomplished the exact same thing and has abyssmally failed

    When we stop electing politicians who have simple ineffective solutions, for complex issues, perhaps we can then put things in perspective and come up with better non-criminal solutions. The most ironic thing about the WOD is that its’ greatest supporters are probably the drug cartels themselves. Harsher regulation = higher prices = higher profits.

  10. You know Martin, this is an area of privacy that concerns me greatly. I was with a person that bought some OTC meds at Walmart and the information they got was taken off of the state DL. I asked what if someone did not have the DL I was told that they could not purchase. Ok. Try this same ID with purchasing liquor. See how far that gets.

    What was interesting is they asked this person, did you used to live in such and such a state. I was like what? This information is not public but it is put into a government database and then it is discoverable under FOIA. Because it is a record kept in the ordinary course of business and it is not exempt because of a medical determination, ie Dr/patient privilege.

    I was amazed that a store can gather that type of info, just for the government. Sig Heil, sig Heil. What exactly has changed?

  11. if anyone has any helpful info that would be great I’m hoping the outcome isnt the same as this poor woman

  12. This just happen to my father 8 months ago he bought 2 boxes of sudafed cause both of us had a cold. After 8 months they come knocking at our door and say he has a warrant for his arrest and hauled him off to jail he is bailed out but now waiting for a court date and I’m trying to figure out exactly what could happen to him he’s 63 years old and on disablility and a veteran and hoping this doesnt mess with any of his social security or anything

  13. .6 grams over the limit. how many times did they have to taze her before she went along quietly?

  14. sorry. I have a lot to say about this, but I’m following FFLeo’s advice, and writing/editing elsewhere. I’m using Mozilla, and it’s not my usual browser, so sorry about the cutoff. Will be back with a better quality post….See you in a couple of days.

  15. I have asthma, along with a disturbing list of other conditions. Since I’m told to avoid walking, I now order my prescriptions and OTC’s. Frequently, I get Psuedafed and Mucinex at the same time.
    Like I don’t have enough problems. I’m on such a low dose of pain killers; my primary care doesn’t want me checking out. The War on Drugs became the War on Pain Specialists and their patients. I went through 6 years with a pain specialist that was targeted by the FBI WITHOUT

  16. Article I, Section 19 of the Indiana Constitution says “In all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts.”

    That’s right, jury nullification is a CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHT in Indiana. This poor woman should exercise her right for a jury trial. I doubt a jury of her peers will convict her.

  17. They have a very similar law in Illinois and it is a pain in the backside. The restrictions on getting over the counter Claritin-D were so bad that my allergist prescribed Clarinex D because it was easier to get the prescription than the so-called over the counter drug.

  18. Laws restricting the sale of pseudophedrine are not there to stop people from abusing pseudophedrine – only an idiot would try that because it doesn’t get you high. They are there to prevent people from buying large amounts in order to manufacture methamphetamine and they actually have been quite effective in that sense. However Turley is right in that this lady was obviously not cooking meth, didn’t need to be prosecuted, and the law should be changed so people with legitimate needs don’t have to worry about getting in trouble.

  19. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but maybe it is a good thing (for the public, not Sally) that there wasn’t any prosecutor discretion here. Without this apparently crazy result, the flaws in the underlying law would not have been exposed to the public. The more outrageous the arrests and charges, the more likely the law will be repealed or replaced. Call it the case for enforcing stupid laws stupidly to illustrate their stupidity. A little like working to contract in a labor dispute.

    Of course I may be wrong, and the public will just become inured to stupid laws and expect to have any random act criminalized. Voters rarely demonstrate the ability to vote out the legislators that make life difficult. But surely there is some result crazy enough to get them to act, or the legislators to fear for reelection, isn’t there?

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