Legalizing Medical Marijuana Does Not Reduce Rate of Fatal Opioid Overdoses: Study
A new study concludes legalizing medical marijuana does not reduce the rate of fatal opioid overdoses.
Sales of oxycodone fell 20 percent last year in Florida, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced. Officials said the drop was mainly due to the closure of some of the state’s biggest “pill mills” and the arrest of some of the clinics’ operators and doctors, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Florida pharmacies and doctors sold about 498 million doses of oxycodone in 2011, compared with a record 622 million doses the previous year.
“These traffickers are not coming down to Florida like they did before,” said DEA spokesman David Melenkevitz. “The medical professionals got the message, too: Either straighten out or we’re coming after you.”
In June 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse by controlling “pill mills” in the state. The law authorized the creation of a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping by people looking to collect multiple painkiller prescriptions. The legislation also imposed new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies.
The state Department of Health said there were 570 pain clinics operating in Florida as of last week, compared with more than 1,300 in 2010.
The DEA notes that Florida’s crackdown has resulted in notable increases in doctors buying oxycodone in Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. “The combination of law enforcement activity, regulatory actions against doctors’ licenses, and the new laws are forcing addicts who previously traveled from other states to Florida seeking oxycodone to turn elsewhere,” according to a DEA news release.
USA Today reported on Monday that hundreds of people in Florida have tried to open pharmacies after the state banned doctors from dispensing opioids directly from their clinics, forcing patients to go to pharmacies to fill their prescriptions.