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Florida prescription drug sales lead to rash of arrests, charges

Florida is well known as a state where tourists come to enjoy themselves at beaches and amusement parks. However, some come to our state to seek medical treatment and prescriptions to treat illness and injury. A rash of recent arrests suggests that some of these individuals are being arrested and charged with crimes involving illegal prescription drug sales for the purpose of resale back in their own communities. The criminal charges that result can be devastating for people who are simply seeking medical treatment and properly prescribed medications while outside of their home state.

Florida is one of the few states where the leading cause of accidental death is prescription drug overdose. This may be due in part to the easy availability of powerful prescription drugs in our state, both through legal and illegal means. While most agree that illegal traffic and subsequent abuse of prescription drugs is a serious social concern, it is imperative that any effort by law enforcement to address that problem does not come down on the backs of people who are simply obtaining the medicines that they need.

With Florida working to crack down on the pain clinic industry, it may become more difficult for some 'drug tourists' to obtain the large quantity of prescription medications that were once available. Until recently, a person could purchase a multitude of pills that could be resold on the street for up to $100 per pill. By limiting the volume of pills that can be obtained quickly, authorities hope to make Florida's clinics less attractive to drug dealers, thereby freeing resources to treat those patients who have legitimate medical needs.

While the prescription drug trade continues to flourish, it is also true there are people who have legitimate pain that require powerful medications. The proliferation of pain clinics and the resulting need for the state to control them may make it more difficult for those with legitimate needs to get the medication they require. However, even in the face of known abuse and criminal activity regarding prescription drug sales, the rights of Americans to use the services of legal medical clinics to receive treatment and medication must not be hindered. Those accused of illegal prescription drug sales have every right to their continued presumption of innocence of any criminal charges until such time as the allegations can be proven in court by the stringent measures our laws require.

Source: floridatoday.com, "States combat pill mill 'tourists'," Andrew Welsh-Huggins, July 8, 2012

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