News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 3, 2009

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

CLINTON — 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.

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