4:24 PM PST, February 9, 2011
I guess Gov. Rick Scott includes dope dealing as one of the Florida industries he hopes to stimulate.
Scott wants to kill a prescription-drug database that would track the flow of narcotic pain killers coming from "pill mill" clinics. This will help keep thousands of dealers happily employed, ranging from the sleazy docs who hand out the narcotics to the thugs who sell them on street corners.
All the overdoses they cause will provide employment in emergency rooms, funeral homes and florist shops. And let's not forget tourism employment as dopers from all over the Southeast now travel to Florida pill mills. More heads in beds.
Let's get to work!
Pill mills have made Florida a national disgrace. Seven people die daily in this state from prescription-drug overdoses.
It's "Miami Vice" all over again, but the drug cartels are run by guys in white coats with scrip pads. They often operate out of strip shopping centers, sometimes with long lines out the door and armed guards inside. Grab your back, groan a few times and pay cash for methadone, hydrocodone and oxycodone at the phony pharmacy in the next room.
Of the top-50 prescribers of oxycodone in the nation, 49 are in Florida.
We have gone from the Sunshine State to the Pain State.
It is so outlandish that politicians and law-enforcement officials in other states have asked Florida to crack down.
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo sent a letter to House Speaker Larry Cretul in 2009 urging his support for the drug-database law that Scott now wants to repeal.
"The bill will give them the ability to monitor the pill factories that have popped up all throughout the state of Florida, which have impacted Kentucky health care," he said.
By impacting health care, he means Kentuckians keeling over dead from drug overdoses. They come here because Kentucky cracked down on its pill mills with a database to track their prescriptions. In 2009, the Kentucky State Police busted 500 people in a drug ring tied to South Florida pill mills.
They even have a name — pillbillies.
In Tennessee, a 63-year-old pillbilly was arrested for traveling down to Florida three times a week, returning each time with 1,000 oxycodone pills.
Like Kentucky, Tennessee has implemented a drug database. It has been a big success. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of controlled-substance prescriptions in Tennessee dropped from 17 million to 15.2 million.
You can bet that Florida pill mills largely make up that difference.
The database not only flags drug dealers looking for product to sell, but it also flags the doctors providing it to them and drug addicts who go doctor shopping for drugs. With the database, doctors and pharmacies can check a patient's history of narcotic prescriptions.
The Florida Legislature approved a database in 2009. The vote in the Senate was unanimous. The vote in the House was 113-10.
After suffering delays, the database is scheduled to go into operation soon. It has been endorsed by the legitimate pain-management industry and pharmaceutical companies, both of which are anxious to end this public-relations disaster.
The cops want it. The state Board of Medicine wants it. Thirty-eight states have implemented it so far.
And here is the kicker: It doesn't cost state government a dime, so Scott can't even justify his actions with that rationale. It all is funded by donations and fees.
So what is Scott's excuse for opposing it? He says this isn't the job of state government.
Huh? Fighting drug dealers isn't the job of government? Well, then, let's cut every police department by 40 percent and close half our jails.
And someone better tell newly elected Attorney General Pam Bondi. Soon after taking office, she made cracking down on pill mills her first headline-grabbing issue. She hired Dave Aronberg, a former state senator who pushed the database legislation, as her special counsel in charge of pill mills.
You might think Scott would have called her with a heads-up. Instead, judging by the response from her office, Scott completely blindsided her, just as he blindsided House Speaker Dean Cannon on SunRail.
Scott has gone from alienating Republican legislators to alienating Republican Cabinet members.
He is making it increasingly impossible for his fellow Republicans to back him. This is one governor who doesn't consider governing a collaborative effort.
Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or email@example.com.
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