Florida Cracks Down on Prescription Drug Trafficking
By N. Ryan LaBar | Criminal Defense Attorney
For drug dealers and addicts alike, Florida had become a vacation destination of choice because of the state's lax regulations on the sale of prescriptions drugs like oxycodone. In order to shake this reputation, and keep residents safe, legislators and law enforcement have been cracking down on those who irresponsibly distribute prescription drugs.
Pill mills - which are pain clinics that prescribe drugs without proper medical evaluations by the facilities' doctors - are becoming more and more popular around the country, but Florida is considered "the pill mill capital of the world." In order to combat this problem, for the last few years, raids have been done on these facilities, which have tremendously reduced the amount of people abusing prescription drugs.
"You would see 30 to 40 people lined up at a clinic," said police Lieutenant Richard Pisanti in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "People came faster than we could arrest them."
Now things have changed dramatically. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that in 2010, 90 out of 100 of the top prescribing oxycodone doctors were located in Florida, but since the state has increased its enforcement efforts, that number has fallen to 13 out of 100 in 2011. In addition, statistics from the Florida Department of Health indicate that pain clinics around the state have decreased by 38 percent.
In addition, the Florida legislature has passed laws that will tighten the restrictions put on physicians prescribing these drugs. As a result, doctors are not allowed to dispense controlled substances out of their offices and they have more stringent requirements for reporting the drugs that they have dispensed.
National Efforts to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse
Federal legislators have also taken steps toward cracking down on pill mills around the country in order prevent nationwide prescription drug abuse.
"Too many of our loved ones are dying every day of prescription drug overdoses, and are abusing these deadly painkillers for non-medical purposes," said U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in a statement. "Too many of our loved ones are dying every day of prescription drug overdoses, and are abusing these deadly painkillers for non-medical purposes."
To combat this, last year the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would increase prison sentences and penalties for trafficking prescription drugs.
What to Do If Charged with a Prescription Drug Offense
Law enforcement has responded to the prescription drug distribution problem by increasing the penalties for selling and illegally possessing these drugs. In addition oxycontin, there are severe criminal consequences for possessing or sales of hydrocodone, Ritalin and Xanax. If you have been charged with a drug crime related to any of these prescription medications, you should speak with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney who will work hard to protect your rights.