Sunday, April 23, 2006

why does the dea hate sick people?

The Drug Enforcement Agency and anti-drug crusaders on Capitol Hill were the impetus behind the recent "study" by the Food and Drug Administration which purported to repudiate several medical studies demonstrating the medical properties of marijuana. Today there is an interesting Post article about a pain-management doctor and the DEA's fanaticism, this time aimed at opium-based painkillers like OxyContin.

The DEA is prosecuting doctors for prescribing OxyContin and similar pain-killers too freely, alleging that the doctors are not killing pain, but are feeding recreational drug habits.

Hey, I know there are medical professionals who are crooked, who abuse drugs or who sell them to people who aren't entitled to them. I once knew a nurse who lost her job because she had become addicted to painkillers and was looting the hospital pharmacy. But some of the DEA prosecutions are based on cases of clerical errors, not criminal action. And the DEA's campaign has had a chilling effect, making some doctors reluctant to prescribe certain powerful painkillers in large quantities for fear of attracting Federal attention of a most unwelcome sort.

The DEA's over-reaction to the problem is absurd -- just as the DEA and Congress' over-reaction to ALL illegal drug abuse is hysterical and over-the-top. In the case of hard-core painkillers, well there really ARE people who are gravely ill or badly injured and are in terrible pain. What kind of society denies relief to these people in the name of fighting drug abuse? Give these people the painkillers they need. If their cases are terminal, it is an act of mercy. If they recover, well then dealing with getting them off of an addiction will just have to be a step in their recovery.

Look, I am completely in favor of strictly regulating the use of powerful painkillers and other medicines that could be abused -- that's fine. But we need to introduce an element of sanity into the equation.

And we should treat recreational drugs the same way. Tax them, regulate them, and treat addicts with compassion. Keep room in our prisons for murderers, rapists, corrupt Administration officials, and Enron-style corporate looters. Set free the pot-smokers and people addicted to OxyContin after a motorcycle accident.