A few years ago, Florida was the epicenter of the illicit trade in prescription pain medication in the United States. One year after new legal measures were established to crack down on the illegal prescription drug market in Florida, the pill mill scene in the state has changed, but some observers question whether the new law enforcement measures go too far – in some cases, catching innocent bystanders in the crossfire.
Two years ago, before the recent prescription drug crackdown began, arrests for prescription drug offenses were on the rise in Broward County and across the state. Doctors in Florida were prescribing 10 times more prescriptions for oxycodone than the rest of the country put together, in many cases operating out of storefront pain clinics known as pill mills. In response to the prescription drug crisis, Governor Rick Scott created multiple drug strike forces in March 2011, which led to more than 2,000 arrests and 27 clinic closures.
Unfortunately, while the enforcement measures succeeded in getting many prescription drug offenders off the streets, they also put law-abiding people with valid prescriptions at risk of being caught up in the sweeps. As law enforcement in Florida continues to grow more zealous in its efforts to stamp out prescription drug abuse, patients with legitimate medical needs face a growing risk of being mistaken for criminals. In some cases, these innocent bystanders may be searched, arrested and even charged with drug crimes despite having done nothing wrong.
Under another new law meant to restrict the flow of illegal prescription drugs in Florida, doctors in the state are now prohibited from providing prescription pain medication directly to patients. As a result, pharmacies now fill the entire demand for legitimate pain prescriptions, putting pharmacists in charge of sorting out which prescriptions are valid and which are bogus. Unfortunately, there are no legal guidelines to help pharmacists assess the validity of prescriptions, meaning that mistakes are bound to occur. For patients falsely tagged as prescription drug abusers, the consequences could be disastrous.
If you have been charged with a drug crime in Florida, it is crucial that you seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. A criminal lawyer with a background defending clients against drug charges will work hard to make sure that your rights are protected in court and will advocate on your behalf for the best possible resolution to your case.