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Why is Everybody Always Pickin' On Me?
December 12, 2003
By Beth Henry, Axis of Logic

Rush 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 America?"

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 side effects.

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, and pharmacists.

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 country.

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.

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