is Everybody Always Pickin' On Me?
By Beth Henry, Axis
Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, came out strongly in his defense
last week, accusing Palm Beach investigators who obtained
search warrants for Limbaugh's doctors' offices of political
motives. On NBC's Today show, he claimed that, "They are looking
to publicly embarrass him and affect his radio program...
Why is rush Limbaugh the only person treated like this in
I don't know, Roy. Why don't you ask the Tulia 13? Or Tommy
Chong? Or the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens now doing
hard prison time on penny-ante dime-bag possession charges?
Here's an even better question, Roy. Did your client do
anything illegal? If not, I'm sitting here aching like mad
from chronic arthritis when I could be legitimately popping
Vicodin like peanuts. I am but one of millions of people in
this country who deal with chronic pain. My insurance does
not cover any of the current NSAIDs for arthritis, and they
are prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, there is not one
that does not carry the risk of serious, even fatal, gastrointestinal
I go to one doctor, and use one pharmacy. Am I mistaken,
or would they be looked at askance by Ashcroft and his buddies
at the DEA were I to start bringing in scripts for massive
quantities of painkillers? And if I had enough prescriptions
filled in a short enough period of time to warrant their scrutiny,
would that scrutiny pose a threat to the doctor's DEA registration
to prescribe controlled substances, and the pharmacist's registration
to dispense them?
According to Title 21 in the United States Controlled Substances
Act, Section 824, the registration to manufacture, distribute,
or dispense controlled substances can be revoked by the U.S.
Attorney General's office based on evidence of any violations
of the conditions of the registration. Ever since his appointment,
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has made it a priority
to crack down on crackheads, dope fiends, and sick people.
Prior to September 11, 2001, he even diverted resources from
terrorism investigation and prevention in order to make sure
that no one got high on anything but Jesus and Old Glory.
In Florida, realm of Jeb Bush and his unfortunate daughter,
Noelle, Florida State Statute 893 - Drug Use Prevention and
Control, is the basis for the search warrant issued for the
offices of Rush Limbaugh's doctor. The statute specifically
addresses "doctor shopping," and Exhibit A supporting probable
cause for the warrant lists Rush's prescriptions from March
24-September 26, 2003.
These are the types and quantities:
Norco - 1435
Oxycontin - 90
Lorcet - 100
Hydrocodone/apa - 188
Xanax - 50
These are powerful drugs, and highly addictive. Feeling
okay after being in pain is a mood-lifter in itself. Feeling
better than okay can be very seductive. When people feel compelled
to seek out these drugs without medical supervision, the cure
can become a greater threat to health than the original illness.
Once the problem gets out of control, and use becomes abuse,
many people then find themselves turned over to the not-so-tender
mercies of law enforcement professionals. Rush Limbaugh, if
he took all the drugs he was prescribed, is lucky to be alive.
He is not, however, the unfortunate victim of selective law
enforcement, if the content of the warrant is accurate.
Roy, you claim that politics is the source of Rush's legal
troubles. I'm inclined to agree with you. The politics of
the costly, hypocritical "War on Drugs" has done the same
thing for narcotics and crime that the Prohibition did for
alcohol and crime. They are now intertwined, and the effects
of both are far, far worse than the sum of their parts.
If you and your client want to do something positive and
constructive about this situation, I have a suggestion for
you. Address the real issue. Medical problems cannot be solved
by punitive legal methods. Draconian laws against drugs, even
those with therapeutic value, do not eliminate their use.
They merely make them more dangerous, even in situations in
which there may be a legitimate need for them.
Despite the DEA's claim that current laws and tracking of
prescriptions does not have a "chilling effect" on doctors'
willingness to prescribe opioids or barbiturates for pain,
it seems that pain relief is one of the issues with which
doctors are most uncomfortable. I know this is purely based
on anecdotal personal evidence, but I know many others who
can tell the same stories I can about terminally-ill relatives
being so cautiously medicated that their last days were passed
in insupportable agony. I also know that people with chronic
pain often self-medicate with non-prescription drugs such
as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, sometimes with lethal results,
such as gastro-intestinal hemorrhaging or liver failure.
God and John Ashcroft forbid, however, that their pain be
managed with controlled substances combined with periodic
check-ups and close communication between doctors, patients,
Much as I disagree with Rush Limbaugh's political views,
I would never wish for him, or for anyone else, the kind of
pain he has experienced, both before and after he began using
prescription drugs. With his influence, rather than setting
up silly, petulant analogies concerning the unfairness of
law enforcement officials, he could do a great deal of good
by advocating a more humane and sensible drug policy in this
He could be a powerful advocate for a drug policy by which
addiction problems could be prevented and treated, rather
than exacerbated by the furtive, and often violent, black
market activity produced by the punitive excesses of the government.
Rush Limbaugh could become a true champion of individual
liberty and dignity, and he might even win over some new listeners.
Beth Henry lives near the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband
and two children. She is an Axis
of Logic Founding Member and Contributing Editor. She
has worked as a technical writer and security analyst for
NASA contractors. She does not hate neo-conservatives; she
just feels better when they're not in charge.