Would Montana Pass a Law Requiring ID to Buy Baking Soda?
This one might have seemed far-fetched, or even outright unthinkable in Montana 30 years ago.
But as we've seen more and more of our everyday products "locked up" and "locked down", it might not be as much of a stretch to visualize the scenario of walking into your local store and having the clerk ask to see your photo identification to buy a simple box of baking soda.
And in fact, that possibility continues to be raised across the Internet, as people anticipate a "crackdown" on an ingredient that can be used in processing crack cocaine.
Is control of baking soda really a thing?
When I was reporting news on the West Coast in the late 80s and early 90s, the spread of meth and "crack" was a major concern in Washington, Oregon and California. Drug investigators would take me along on big drug busts, just like an episode of "Cops", and I saw firsthand what it was doing to small communities, and would soon do to towns all across the country as the "meth epidemic" moved east.
So it was no real surprise when those states led the charge to sharply control the sale of products like Sudafed, which contained pseudoephedrine. It stopped situations where people were buying dozens of boxes at a time for their meth production, and NOT to fight the common cold. Eventually, the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act was signed into law in 2006. And Washington, and other states, expanded those controls.
The "baking soda buzz"
Back then, news outlets continued to report that various states were also thinking of controlling the sale of baking soda since it can also be used to "cook" or process cocaine powder to make "crack." Not to mention situations where baking soda can be used to disguise cocaine.
Almost as soon as people started regular Internet use there were stories about various states "banning", or controlling the sale of baking soda. And while lawmakers, including ours in Montana, can get behind some pretty sketchy proposals, no one has ever "banned" baking soda.
That hasn't stopped people from trying
Search change.org and you can find all kinds of objections to baking soda. As recently as 2021, one man was pressing a petition to ban the sale of baking soda because of crack cocaine's impact on people of color.
However, the Food and Drug Administration continues to treat sodium bicarbonate as a "GRAS", or "Generally Recognized as Safe." It can be poisonous in "large amounts."
So for now at least, you can still enjoy Grandma's treats this Thanksgiving, and fight off the leftover smells in the refrigerator.
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