It is encouraging to see new Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
quickly act to curtail the use of dangerous drugs, especially since
Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers seem less than resolute.
Scott immediately eliminated the Office of Drug Control, which had
made a priority of fighting the "pill mills" that proliferate in
Florida and prescribe pain killers wantonly. State officials say
seven people a day die due to the inappropriate use of prescription drugs.
Scott said a separate office wasn't needed to handle the task, and he
may be right. But he has done nothing to replace the office that
coordinated the anti-drug effort among state agencies and had been a
leader in highlighting the threat of pill mills.
[continues 412 words]
It's way too soon to know if Gov. Rick Scott really understands that
he is now a politician who needs legislative allies, or still thinks
he's a CEO who can issue orders to get things done.
So the fact he thinks he can cut 40 percent from the state prison
budget when key legislators think that's a pipe dream -- without
simply releasing thousands of prisoners -- might be one of the
reality checks headed his way.
But Scott might have hit an administrative home run with his
selection of former Indiana prison system chief Edwin Buss to run
[continues 329 words]
Regarding Nicole Brochu's Jan. 11 column: There is a big difference
between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs.
Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and
frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records.
What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls. Drug
dealers don't ID for age.
Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as
organized crime controls marijuana distribution, consumers will
continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine
and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana
[continues 88 words]
The half-gram bottle of bath salts promises an "invigorating" and
But to local and federal authorities, it's another dangerous product
misused as fake cocaine that's sending youths to emergency rooms and
mental hospitals in Florida and across the country.
As federal officials prepare to ban synthetic marijuana, specialty
shops and convenience stores across Florida have started stocking up
on bottles of bath salts. Louisiana and Florida authorities have
linked these bath salts to at least two suicides in Louisiana, 21
calls to Florida poison control centers and dozens of hospital visits
in Central and South Florida in the past year.
[continues 809 words]
It's difficult to raise the topic of marijuana usage in America today
without somehow touching off intense debate over whether this
relatively mild, but still harmful drug should be decriminalized, even
fully legalized. That's how much the pro-pot crowd has hijacked the
national conversation over the nation's ongoing struggle with drug
Exhibit A: an opinion piece posted in this space earlier this week by
a drug treatment psychologist bemoaning a national spike in teen pot
smoking and attributing it largely to society's growing tolerance of
[continues 848 words]
The state has a budget deficit. One area where large savings can be
found is in providing effective community treatment rather than
incarceration. Florida has more than 100,000 in 60 prisons and plans
to build 10 more. There are thousands more in county jails.
The Florida Substance Abuse and Mental Health Corp. reports 66
percent of the inmates have substance-abuse problems and many are
mentally ill. Few receive badly needed treatment. A criminal record
is difficult to overcome.
Florida ranks 16th in the nation in incarceration and 48th in mental
health treatment per capita funding.
[continues 145 words]
Given the amped up push to legalize pot, it was no surprise to many
of us that a recent study shows marijuana use has spiked among
teenagers. But it is interesting to hear the perspective from an
expert in drug addiction as to why more and more teens are lighting
up a joint, and why this may be a trend that continues to climb. So
give Dr. Kaufman's viewpoint a read and tell me what you think at
firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Nicole Brochu
[continues 526 words]
For Three Decades, a Federal Agency Has Supplied Irvin Rosenfeld With
Marijuana to Control a Rare Disease. He Tells About It in a New Book.
On a recent chilly morning, Fort Lauderdale stockbroker Irvin
Rosenfeld interrupted his client calls for a quick marijuana
cigarette in the company parking lot. Then he went back to work.
The cigarette - perfectly legal for him - was one of about 120,000
the federal government has provided to him at taxpayer expense for
the past 29 years. He's one of only four people who remain in a
now-closed "compassionate" drug program that at its peak provided 13
patients across the country with daily doses of pot to help manage
[continues 1293 words]
PANAMA CITY -- With or without a statewide Office of Drug Control,
local advocates will continue their work to prevent substance abuse.
Gov.-elect Rick Scott announced recently he would close the Florida
Office of Drug Control, which prompted a critical response from the
Drug Free America Foundation.
"Without this office, Florida will most assuredly face the prospect
of increased substance abuse, treatment costs, medical costs, crime
and incarceration," Executive Director Calvina Fay said in a news release.
Locally though, the closure won't have a profound impact, said Tunnie
Miller, vice president of the Florida Association of DUI Programs and
CEO of Chemical Addictions Recovery Effort (CARE) in Bay County.
[continues 167 words]
The letter "Difficult seeing Mayfair decline" (Dec. 10) mentioned what
a nice development the Mayfair subdivision was when the writer came
here more than 40 years ago. Ditto.
Mayfair was a home for many retired Navy officers and working people.
You could ride a bike without being mugged. You did not need a
Doberman for protection, or to lock your doors the minute it turned
dark. We were proud of our homes with manicured yards and flowers. It
was an enjoyable place to live.
[continues 123 words]
Two recent reports on smoking describe two very different trends. One
report is national, the other from California.
When it comes to tobacco, a California Health and Human Services
Agency survey released Dec. 20 found that more and more California
residents are kicking the habit. The rate of decline is more than
double the national average, and California's incidence of lung cancer
has fallen three times as fast as the national average. Let us hope
that California's reputation as a harbinger holds true in this case.
[continues 314 words]
Gov.-elect Rick Scott has trimmed a cuticle on the body of Florida's
state government. But judging by the reaction it has received, you
would think he had hacked off an arm.
Before Christmas, Scott announced he would abolish the Office of Drug
Control and fold its duties into the departments of Health and Law
Enforcement. The loss to Florida: four staffers and $500,000.
Given the fact that the state is facing a budget shortfall of nearly
$3 billion in 2011, the savings are minuscule. But critics say the
impact on drug abuse will be enormously negative.
[continues 464 words]
State representatives file bills to ban sales of the risky get-high
Identical bills filed by two Jacksonville-area lawmakers would make
the sale of synthetic marijuana illegal in Florida.
The product is marketed as incense, and many packets are labeled as
not for human consumption, but its growing popularity as a way to get
high has caught the attention of lawmakers across the country. It's
banned in more than a dozen states.
"A friend of mine told me her daughter got into it," said state Sen.
Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville. "She said it felt like her heart was
going to jump out of her chest."
[continues 351 words]
Kimberly Madison is poised and confident, well-dressed, with
sunglasses perched atop her thick, dark hair.
"She glows," says a friend, Mary Petrella.
It's a big jump from Madison's dull-eyed photo of six years ago, when
she was a drug addict whose one-woman crime spree meant prison stints
in Florida and Alabama.
"It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," says Madison, 47. "I do look
better now than I did at the end of my 'using' years."
[continues 341 words]
Cigarettes are a natural nemesis for parents of teenagers. But perhaps
parents should be more worried about marijuana.
A recent annual report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the
University of Michigan says pot smoking went up for 2010 over the
previous year in all three grades surveyed: eighth, 10th and 12th.
And then there's this: More high school seniors smoked marijuana (21.4
percent) during the last 30 days than smoked cigarettes (19.2 percent).
The institute says marijuana affects learning, judgment and motor
skills at a time when young brains are still developing and are most
[continues 301 words]
Ban Targets 'Synthetic Marijuana'
DAYTONA BEACH -- Rob Smith reached to the floor behind his store's
front counter, pulled a thin, green packet from its box and dealt it
like a playing card on the glass.
"Anyone from bikers to lawyers to doctors," he said. "You'd be
surprised if you sat here for one day. I've had 67-year-old people
coming in here for this stuff. I've had people on chemo."
The "stuff" in the packet is Lux Stimulus, the newest brand of herbal
incense available at Pumpernickel Pops, a beachside smoke shop on
International Speedway Boulevard open since 1978. Smith, the new
owner of the store, keeps each packet stored out of sight, where a
customer has to specifically ask for one.
[continues 1241 words]
Dr. Dixon explains the need for "a fact-based public discussion of the
problem free of the hysteria and morality play..." But fact-based
discussions, so far, have been useless because they begin with the
tacit assumption that the problem is "drugs." so we flap our gums
comparing drug A to drug B to drug C, and end by agreeing that no drug
is risk-free. We should have been discussing how to manage that risk.
If the problem were "drugs" we'd have prohibited such substances as
laughing gas and model airplane glue (for sniffing), tobacco and
alcohol. (Actually, we did prohibit alcohol in the 1920s, but learned
not to try again, and not to try with tobacco.) So, yes, a fact-based
public debate, "resolved that prohibition causes more societal damage
than it prevents."
Kudos to William Dixon for speaking the truth about our absurd war on
drugs. A fact-based public discussion is exactly what is needed.
When questioned about the utter ineffectiveness of their efforts, drug
war bureaucrats crow about the latest seizures and arrest figures as
evidence of success.
In fact, the only legitimate measure of success for drug policy is
whether it saves more lives than it destroys. In that regard,
prohibition is an unmitigated disaster. The overwhelming scientific
consensus is that black market violence, adulterated drugs, and the
spread of HIV are all exacerbated by prohibitionist policies.
Yet when confronted with hard evidence, our politicians choose to
disregard scientific fact and mutter vaguely about "the message this
sends to our children".
It's time for drug policies based on scientific evidence, not
San Rafael, CA
Perhaps the time has come for the government to consider legalizing
marijuana and treating its use and sale the same as alcoholic
beverages. I have never used it or knowingly been around anybody
smoking it, but it appears that almost anyone who has a desire to use
it could buy some. The billions of dollars a year in largely illegal
sales - medical marijuana is legally sold in some states - are going
directly to drug cartels and criminals.
Several states control the sale of alcoholic beverages by allowing
those beverages to be sold only through state owned and operated
stores. This could be done with marijuana, and the state would then
become the beneficiary of any profit and taxes received.
[continues 324 words]
In Mexico the drug cartels bribe politicians and police officers while
slaughtering those whom they can't buy. Murders this year of gang
members, government officials and innocent bystanders number in the
In New York arrests were made of five University students selling
drugs out of their dorm rooms " to pay for college". Students at one
of the nation's elite universities selling drugs? What next?
Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and
over again and expecting different results". That is what we have been
doing in our efforts to combat illicit drugs.
[continues 600 words]