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Bondi touts pill mill crackdown as drug deaths drop

In 2012, 805 fewer people died in Florida from drug-related deaths, a 9 percent drop from the prior year that includes decreases in deaths related to methadone, hydrocodone, and cocaine, according to a new report by the Florida Medical Examiners.

It’s the first full year of reporting since “Statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Force” teams were created in March 2011 to crackdown on so-called “pill mill” doctors who over-prescribe powerful drugs.

The FDLE reports that is has had a 50 percent reduction in oxycodone-related deaths in the last two years.

“Our relentless effort is finally starting to pay off,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi during a Tuesday news conference. “When I took office, there were more than 7 Floridians dying a day from prescription drug overdoses….of the top 100 oxycodone dispensers, these are doctors, 98 of them lived in Florida. Now we’re down to zero...There used to be pill mills on every corner and now they’re virtually gone.”

Of Florida’s 178,000 deaths in 2012, 8,330 were drug-related deaths. The report distinguishes between drug caused death and whether the drug was merely present at the time of death. The vast majority of cases had more than one drug occurrence.

The medical examiners were asked to distinguish between whether the drugs “caused” the death or were “present” in the body at the time of death. A drug is indicated as the cause only when the medical examiner determines the drug triggered the death. In those deaths where the drugs are present, the drug may not have played a role in death.

Deaths caused by oxycodone were down 41 percent. Deaths caused by cocaine dropped 9.1 percent.

Oxycodone was present in 33 percent fewer deaths, followed by a 9.9 percent drop in prescription pills, 21.4 percent drop in methadone, an 11.4 percent drop in hydrocodone and an 8.7 percent drop in cocaine.

Despite the plunge, oxycodone still caused the most deaths, with 735. The next most lethal were alprazolam, 639; ethyl alcohol, 573; cocaine, 549; methadone, 512; morphine, 415; hydrocodone, 244; and diazepam, 205.

From May 2011 to Aug. 26, 2013, the seven regional Drug Enforcement Strike Forces have made 4,226 arrests (including 76 doctors), and seized 876,220 pharmaceutical pills, 146 vehicles, 578 weapons and $11 million in ill-gotten gains while closing 254 clinics.

Heroin occurrences increased 88.7 percent and deaths caused by heroin increased by 89.5 percent.

Comments

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GBrant

Thank you to Rep. Marcelo Llorenta, Senator Mike Fasano, Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, and Sheriff Al Lamberti who led the fight on this issue years before the Attorney General took office. You have to wonder why the Governor shut down the Office of Drug Control (established by Governor Bush) when he took office.

Ed Jenkins

Pam is doing a great job and on her way to being our next governor. Now that she is getting this drug problem under control, she should go after those trying to push narcotics like marijuana on our children like those trying to put the harmful measure on the ballot. Those people are equivalent to drug dealers and need to be arrested and treated as such.

Kathy Legislative Coordinator

End the pharmaceutical chemical slavery in Florida now and you will have many less deaths. Cannabis is one of the original medicines and still safer than pharmaceutical chemicals which kill people daily and have every day in the 100 years they have been used.

seabourne

We all have an endocannabinoid system. It regulates the other systems in our body. As Raphael Mechoulem, the man who originally discovered THC in 1964 and has been studying cannabis ever since, whose team discovered the endocannabinoid system in 1987, states, "There is barely a biological or physiological system in our bodies in which the endocannabinoids do not participate". Our bodies run on cannabinoids, some people don't produce enough, like a diabetic with insulin. When the body's own endocannabinoids are diminished, this causes a function issue within the body's systems.

We have American Medicine and it works for many, yet there are other widely accepted forms of medicine. Medical cannabis is considered holistic medicine in many areas of the country. It has always been a part of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Korean medicines. Cannabis was widely used as medicine in this nation until 1937. Now science understands the connection between the plant and humans, it is time the nation accepts cannabis medicine as a science. In addition to American Medicine we currently have Chiropractic, Holistic, Herbal and Ayurvedic medicine being practiced here. There is room for cannabis medicine, the practice of medicine based on the endocannabinoid system and using cannabis to treat it. To say we are a free nation and forbid the only natural homeostatic substance that can actually heal people is an oxymoron.

Misinformation has done much damage over the last 75 years as has the war on a plant and those who use it. Cannabis has continually been shown to be a remarkable anti-inflammatory which could be of great help to the 86 million people that suffer chronic pain. No one ever died from cannabis/marijuana though much suffering has taken place from the prohibition of it. It is time to end this travesty. Education is key - Educate Everyone

Learn more at http://plantfreedom.org/

Cassie

I can't begin to tell the number of medical specialist and torturous medical tests, the amount of pharmaceuticals and allergic reactions to them, that I have experienced in my 55 years, which could have all been avoided if we had only known about the endocannabinoid system sooner.

I don't hold doctors guilty since the science wasn't known then. However, it is known now and no person should ever have to suffer what I and so many others have over the years. Florida doctors must educate themselves on the endocannabinoid system or be educated by their patients, and many are.

Florida doctors must speak up to the Florida Medical Association. Legislators have stated they will not consider legalizing cannabis for medicine until the Florida Medical Association is in favor of cannabis as medicine. The Florida Medical Association has stated they will not consider cannabis as medicine until enough of their members voice in favor of using cannabis for medicine.

Florida doctor’s voices are needed!

Please discuss this with your doctor, or the doctor of a loved one that would benefit from medical use of cannabis.

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