Republicans are Just Like Democrats -- AZ Version.

As I mentioned the other day, I sometimes have this fantasy that we have some sort of libertarian streak in the Arizona Republican party.  The Goldwater Institute and Jeff Flake give me hope.  But then the Arizona legislature gets to work and my hopes are dashed.

A big national Republican issue is the excessive power Congress has delegated to the EPA and FDA to regulate and ban substances, from BPA to CO2.  So what do the Republicans do in AZ?  They propose a law to give an un-elected bureaucracy the power to willy nilly ban substances without a bit of legislative oversight.

The legislature had previously outlawed 30 chemicals that could be used to make the "bath salts"-type mixtures, and dropped another eight substances on the bill Governor Jan Brewer signed last month.

As Boca Raton Florida-based attorney Thomas Wright III told New Times shortly before Brewer signed the legislation, "To suggest they're putting a ban on bath salts is dumbing down the general public."

Republican state Senator Linda Gray is now explaining this to everyone, as she's proposed a new method to attempt banning "bath salts."

House Bill 2388 is the new hope, which would allow the state's Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Public Safety to ban the sales of chemical substances at their pleasure.

According to a Senate fact sheet, the pharmacy board "must make a formal finding that the chemical composition defined by the Board has a potential for abuse and submit the finding to DPS."

The pharmacy board then has to "consult" with DPS about its proposed rule, and that's that. The board just has to let the governor and the legislature know once a year which chemicals it's decided to ban.

So after all the concern about regulation voiced by Republicans about the EPA, they are giving even more sweeping powers to... the Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Public Safety?   This should be all the proof you need that the Coke and Pepsi party have equivalent authoritarian streaks.  As many other libertarians have observed, the Republicans have a healthy distrust of government, except when it comes to anyone such as the DPS or military that carries a gun, and then they are willing to hand over infinite trust and authority.

In many ways, this law is exactly like the environmental laws Republicans hate that require detailed analyses of potential harms but no counterveiling analysis of benefits.  In this case, the Pharmacy board is required to analyze the potential for abuse of chemicals but there is absolutely no language  requiring any consideration of the benefits of the substance's use or legality.  By the language of the law, if there is a potential for abuse, it must be banned no matter how otherwise useful the product is or could be.

  • me

    Yargh.

    The problem with the US in a nutshell:
    Democrats attempt to fix anything they believe might be wrong by creating lots of laws with little oversight.
    Republicans attempt to fix anything they believe might be wrong by creating lots of laws with little oversight.

    I wonder what the chances of a hypothetical third party that would run on a platform of weeding out and reducing the total number of laws would be.

  • Mark2

    This is all part of the drug wars. Of course these "bath salts" are now being smoked by kids for the high - let them smoke pot and they won't be smoking bath salts is another issue though.

    Depending on how this board is set up, it may be reasonable. What happens is that a particular substance gets outlawed because it has become a recreational drug, then illegal drug pharmacologists come up with a similar drug, even one molecule different, and the new version is no longer illegal. So what states will do now, is ban classes of drugs, and they set up these boards to look at illegal drugs and see if they match the class, if they do the ban is automatic. It is yet another program to protect the women, children, poor and elderly.

    But if these things "need to be banned" anyway, I can see setting up a board to do the basic work, rather than have your representatives have to spend time drafting up 100 drug bills a year.

    But yes there is the question about war on drugs, and freedom, etc, etc.

  • Dale

    Are there any chemicals or substances that don’t have a potential for abuse?

  • Jim

    So, any chemical that could be misused could be banned. I say we need to recirculate the petitions to the AZ legislature to band dihydrogenmonoxide. People misuse that all the time.

  • RandomReal[]

    Never ever give any substantive power to something called the Department of Public Safety, e.g.,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_of_Public_Safety

  • Mark2

    @Dale: Nerf

  • Will

    The unintended consequences of the war on drugs is it pushes people from a drug that's relatively safe (weed), to drugs we know very little about. Such as the many fake pot subsitutes you can buy. Bath salts is just another case of pushing people into very questionable substances in some cases.

  • Panzersage

    Ladies and Gentlemen, for your consideration I submit dihydrogen monoxide as a chemical for review. This most dangerous substance, in 2006 alone over 1,000 individuals under the age of 20 died from inhaling this substance.

    It has a Lethal Dose index of just 90 g/Kg. Many people have died from not just inhaling but actually ingesting this substance.

    The substance is easily acquired in parks, public places, studies have shown that it is even available in massive quantities from Government buildings.

    Large quantities are found in Soda and alcohol.

    We must regulate and stop this dangerous substance.

    Please note that we are not allowed to consider any benefits of H2O, only the inherent risk.

  • marco73

    Big news scare story in Tampa last night. As least 2 of the network affiliates were on hand for a police raid of a company that makes fake pot.
    It is marketted as some sort of insence, but of course "children" might be smoking it. The company producing the fake pot is doing nothing illegal: the state legislature can't write laws fast enough to keep up with chemists.
    So there were a whole pile of cops standing around, taking small samples from bags and buckets of labelled products, to determine if anything there was illegal. Various police spokesman were rotating from camera to camera, lamentting that the laws just couldn't keep up with the manufacturers.
    Of course since it's election time, there is no way either political party is say a word about what a collosal waste of resources it is to keep chasing small amounts of drugs.

  • caseyboy

    I kind of see all these drugs and substances as a way to cull the herd so to speak.

  • Gil

    Conversely, Panzer, you ought to have no recourse in the case of flood damage to your property - especially from factory that discharges a heap of water - after all, it's just water and is necessary for life hence it can't be unsafe.

  • Not Sure

    "I kind of see all these drugs and substances as a way to cull the herd so to speak."

    If you can get the politicians and cops to use them, I suppose...