I had a cold I needed to get rid of to go skiing this weekend. I decided to stop by the local vitamin store to pick up some remedies. I didn’t really have anything specific in mind, and didn’t really feel like playing herbalist – figuring out which combination of herbs to take and how. I just wanted a good natural remedy to get me feeling fit again to go skiing.
I asked someone who worked there if they could recommend anything for a head cold. “Well, I’m not a medical practitioner, so I can’t really recommend anything.” This pissed me off. You know how when you feel sick it makes you kind of snappy anyway? This didn’t help. Suddenly, I realized what had happened. The increasingly restrictive legislation and scare tactics of the FDA have reduced vitamin shops to the level of head shops – shops which sell drug paraphernalia.
For years, stores have existed where people could by pipes, bongs, and whatever other things the store could get away with selling under the guise of “For tobacco use only.” Everyone knew their real purpose, of course, yet these stores remain. We call them head shops. In the last decade or so, increasing crackdowns have resulted in tighter practices. For example, someone has to ask for a water pipe instead of a bong. If you say bong, you get thrown out. It apparently has gotten increasingly ridiculous has time has gone on.
Now, standing in the vitamin shop, I felt like standing in a head shop. I tried subtly rephrasing my question, simply asking for a recommendation, what he might suggest, saying I understood he doesn’t practice medicine, round and round. Finally after some mumbling and grumbling, he did not pick out a box of homeopathic cold tablets. “These are homeopathic, just follow the specific directions.” I didn’t feel like playing with this yo-yo anymore, so bought them and left. I went home, and followed the directions. To my delight, the tablets worked and I went skiing. At least the story had a happy ending.
Seeing the similarity in behavior worries me. It shows that similar legislation has similar results. First they went after drugs, and most people did nothing, because most people don’t use drugs. Now, they’ve started doing the same thing to vitamin shops, making it even more difficult for people who choose to use natural medicine. Again, most people will probably do nothing, because most people do not use natural medicine. But where does it go from there? You already have to show your ID when buying synthetic cold medicines which contain pseudo-ephedrine, because unsavory individuals can use them to manufacture methamphetamine. What will you do when you need to show your ID to buy vitamin C or a bottle of water, or even to leave your house? Who will speak up then?
Don’t let vitamin shops become the new head shops. If we allow this, it will only deepen the level of tyranny under which we must live. Remember that the Constitution guarantees every American citizen the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The state has no right to make your health decisions for you. “It’s not for me, really! It’s for a friend of mine.”