by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced. - Albert Einstein
John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food restaurant worker, lost his eye in a 2000 accident and was prescribed painkillers. Years later, he met and befriended a guy who seemed to be in pain himself. His new friend asked if he could buy some of Horner’s pain pills. Naturally, the friend was a police informant. Prosecutors in Central Florida say Horner was ultimately paid $1,800 for pills. “My public defender told me, ‘They got you dead to rights,’” he said. “So I thought, ‘OK, I guess there’s no need taking this to trial.’” His story is recounted in a BBC News Service story about the problematic use of informants by U.S. law-enforcement agencies.
It’s an important subject and the article tackles it well.
But let’s focus here on the anecdote about Horner, because it gets at the utter madness of the War on Drugs. For the sake of argument, let’s presume he’s guilty of selling $1,800 of pain pills prescribed to him for an injury. Forget that he was arguably entrapped. Just look at the crime in isolation.
What sort of punishment should it carry?
You’ve got a 46-year-old employed father, with no criminal record, caught selling four bottles of prescription pain pills. “Under Florida law Horner now faced a minimum sentence of 25 years, if found guilty,” the BBC reports.
Twenty-five years minimum!
It costs Florida roughly $19,000 to incarcerate an inmate for a year. So I ask you, dear reader, is keeping non-violent first-time drug offender John Horner locked behind bars in a jumpsuit really the best use of $475,000? For the same price, you could pay a year’s tuition for 75 students at Florida State University. You could pay the salaries of seven West Palm Beach police officers for a year. Is it accurate to call a system that demands the 25-year prison term mad?
Well. Prosecutors offered to shave years off his sentence if he became an informant himself and successfully helped send five others to prison on 25 year terms. He tried. But “Horner failed to make cases against drug traffickers,” says the BBC. “As a result, he was sentenced to the full 25 years in October last year and is now serving his sentence in Liberty Correctional Institution.”
“He will be 72 by the time he is released.”
Meet his kids:How about a pardon, Governor Rick Scott?
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Having “the talk” about drugs with your teenager can be pretty darn stressful—particularly for parents who used to do drugs themselves. So take a Xanax a half an hour or so before the talk. But check with your doctor first to make sure that Xanax doesn’t have any negative interactions with the Zoloft you’re taking for your depression. And wait until after lunch, so that you’re head is clear of the lingering aftereffects of the Ambien you took to get to sleep last night. And if you still have an erection—one that’s lasted four hours or more—from the Viagra you took this morning before the kids got up, postpone the talk for now and go to an emergency room right away. You can have that talk with your kids about how you used to drugs some other time.
But make sure your kids take their Ritalin before you leave for the ER.
“Instead of having a pain medication, an antianxiety medication, and a sleep medication, they are able to just use cannabis, and that controls all of those symptoms,” said Amanda Reiman, Ph.D., the director of research and social services at the Berkeley center. Almost 50% of those surveyed said they use cannabis two or three times per day.
More than 75% of respondents said they used cannabis for psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and persistent insomnia. Unlike some psychiatric drugs, they said, marijuana didn’t leave them feeling like “zombies,” Dr. Reiman reported at the American Psychiatric Association’s Institute on Psychiatric Services. +
Bill Maher’s Halloween rant about LSD and psilocybin
“You can’t just decide to give a bunch of innocent, drug-free kids some sort of psychedelic. What if it interacts badly with their Wellbutrin, their Abilify, their Adderall, their Ritalin, and their Monster Energy Drink?”
In the basement of a Cape Cod on a suburban street in northern New Jersey, a teenage boy turns to a friend and asks impatiently, “What did you get? I’ll give you some of this”—indicating a bottle of Ritalin stuffed into the front pocket of his backpack—“for some of that painkiller.” As a rap song plays just loud enough not to disturb the neighbors, his friend eyes the bottle suspiciously. “Is this generic, or is it the good stuff?” he asks. Upstairs, several teens are sitting at the kitchen table listening to a girl who looks to be about 15 tell how she got the narcotic Oxycontin from the medicine cabinet at home. “It was left over,” she says, “from my sister’s wisdom-teeth surgery.”
This isn’t an ordinary party—it’s a pharming party, a get-together arranged while parents are out so the kids can barter for their favorite prescription drugs. Pharming parties—or just “pharming” (from pharmaceuticals)—represent a growing trend among teenage drug abusers. While use of illegal substances like speed, heroin and pot has declined over the past decade, according to a report issued three weeks ago by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), abuse of prescription drugs has increased sharply. CASA says about 2.3 million kids ages 12 to 17 took legal medications illegally in 2003, the latest year for which figures are available. That’s three times the number in 1992, or about 1 out of every 10 teens. “It’s a hidden epidemic,” says Dr. Nicholas Pace, an internist at New York University Medical Center. “Parents don’t want to admit there’s a problem out there.” +
Perhaps it’s because I’m from a different generation, but it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the alleged popularity of pharming parties.
Are they for real? Or just media hype?
09/17/11—Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Among the most commonly abused are OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma. One relative newcomer to the scene is Fentanyl, a painkiller that comes in the form of patches and lollipops and is 100 times more powerful than morphine.