It's rare that I agree with John Tierney, but his editorial on the War on Drugs
is spot on:
What followed was a legal saga pitting Mr. Paey against his longtime doctor (and a former friend of the Paeys), who denied at the trial that he had given Mr. Paey some of the prescriptions. Mr. Paey maintains that the doctor did approve the disputed prescriptions, and several pharmacists backed him up at the trial. Mr. Paey was convicted of forging prescriptions.
He was subject to a 25-year minimum penalty because he illegally possessed Percocet and other pills weighing more than 28 grams, enough to classify him as a drug trafficker under Florida's draconian law (which treats even a few dozen pain pills as the equivalent of a large stash of cocaine).
More . . .
First off, the drug laws here in the US are
far more draconian than they need to be: why do we have a higher percentage of people incarcerated than any other industrialized nation, and
a worse drug problem than most of them? And why are we treating a single bottle of pills as equivalent to a kilo of cocaine? Or 5 grams of crack cocaine as equivalent to 10 kilos? Or marijuana to heroin? Or . . .
Second, as Tierney correctly notes, there is something wrong when you're forcing doctors to sail between the rock of denying patients pain medication and the whirlpool of drug charges for oversubscribing medication. The laws need to be reformed so that doctors can prescribe appropriate amounts of medication, with appropriate medical oversight (not the government, thank you very much), to patients who truly need it.
Finally, what does it say when the federal government announces that it's cracking down on medical marijuana, while cutting funding for fighting drugs such as crystal meth, which are far more destructive to individuals, families, and society as a whole? [Other than once again revealing the Bush administration's breathtaking ability to solve the wrong problem?]
* * *
And, on a side note, for you legal gurus--would this fact--from a page about Mr. Paey--be grounds for a mistrial?
When jurors could not agree on a verdict, the persuasive jury foreman told the group it was okay to vote for guilt because he, the jury foreman, knew the defendant would only get probation. Unfortunately, the foreman was terribly wrong. The judge had to impose the mandatory sentence of 25 years.