Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Attorney General Hops on Prescription Drug Abuse Bandwagon 5/14/04

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert has been holding news conferences across the state to announce his crusade against what US drug czar John Walters portrayed as the nation's leading drug menace (when it isn't marijuana): prescription drug abuse. Pappert announced that he is nearly doubling the size of a statewide investigated unit to target doctors, pharmacists, users, and street dealers of prescription drugs, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The state Bureau of Narcotics Investigation unit has increased its agents from 11 to 19, and they will be hitting the streets and visiting medical offices in the next two months, the attorney general announced at a May 4 Pittsburgh press conference. "The hiring of new agents will enable us to investigate more people who engage in this illegal conduct and also send a message that we are focused on prescription drug abuse," Pappert said.

Pappert also said he supported legislation that would heighten penalties for prescription theft or forgery, and which would make "doctor shopping" a misdemeanor. He warned that the looming rollout of generic Oxycontin by Purdue Pharma, which would cost half what the name-brand goes for, would lead to increasing supplies of the drug on the street. "We have seen the devastation that this often-overlooked problem has had on individuals and communities," Pappert said. "It is a problem that many of us in law enforcement see as getting worse."

The bill heightening penalties for prescription drug-related offenses is HB 2019, introduced by Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia). It hasn't moved in the General Assembly since September. Read the bill and related documents online at:

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Issue #337, 5/14/04 Editorial: Always Another Angle | Russia Enacts Sweeping Reforms in Drug Laws: No Jail for Possession | Maryland Treatment Not Jail Bill Signed Into Law | Canada Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Dying as Government Prepares to Call Elections, Few Mourners | Calls for Sentencing Reform Grow in Arizona | Announcing: "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War" -- New Compendium by Sheriff Masters Features David Borden and Numerous Other Thinkers on Drug Policy | Newsbrief: Local Prosecutor Tries to Block Atlantic City Needle Exchange, Would Be New Jersey's First | Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Attorney General Hops on Prescription Drug Abuse Bandwagon | Newsbrief: Ohio Appeals Court Upholds City's Harsh Marijuana Penalties | Newsbrief: Congress Defeats Effort to Abolish Cap on US Troops in Colombia | Newsbrief: Anti-Drug Ads Pique Curiosity, Researcher Finds | Newsbrief: Alcohol Prohibition Coming to Nigerian State | Newsbrief: Study Finds "No Increased Risk" for Marijuana-Using Drivers | Newsbrief: Hip-Hop Summit Announces Mass Rally Against Drug War at GOP Convention | Newsbrief: Finnish Green MP Causes Flap with Admission of Cannabis Use | Newsbrief: Million Marijuana Marches, Continued -- Rocking in Rosario, Repression in Russia and Israel | This Week in History | Job Opportunity: Program Coordinator, International Harm Reduction Development Program, OSI | The Reformer's Calendar

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