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Indiana Grandmother Jailed After Buying One Box Too Many of Cold Medicine


Ultimately, it was the box of Mucinex-D that Sally Harpold purchased for her daughter in March 2009 at a Clinton, Indiana, drugstore that got her thrown in jail. Because it came on the heels of a purchase of a box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine that she had already dared to pick up for her husband earlier that week, Harpold, a grandmother of triplets, was awoken by police officers banging on the front door of her home on July 30 (four months after the purchases) and taken in handcuffs to the Clinton Police Department. She was questioned about her cold medicine purchases, and then sent to jail until her husband posted $300 bail. Later, her police mug shot appeared on the front page of her local newspaper in an article entitled, "17 Arrested in Drug Sweep."

As discussed in the Crime and Federalism blog, Indiana police arrested Harpold because her two purchases meant that she was technically in violation of a statute that restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period. The statute is intended to help fight the problem of methamphetamine production in the area, as pseudoephedrine can be used to manufacture "meth." As Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander notes, however, the law does not require that the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth. Alexander told the local press that the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. "I'm simply enforcing the law as it was written,” Alexander said.

Maybe it's time for a new kind of warning on the side of the decongestant box?

Posted by Bruce Carton on September 28, 2009 at 01:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)


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