When challenged about the disproportionate number of black people sent to prison on drug charges, right-wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh once famously opined that perhaps more white people busted on drug charges should be sent to the slammer. Well, Limbaugh can talk the talk, but when it comes to taking a fall for his own drug-related misdeeds, he can't walk the walk.
After three years of legal wrangling aimed at avoiding punishment for using illicit methods to obtain the prescription narcotic Oxycontin, Limbaugh and his attorney, Roy Black, agreed last Friday that Limbaugh would be arrested on one count of doctor shopping, would plead not guilty, and would receive deferred adjudication.
In return, Limbaugh agreed to pay $30,000 in court costs. He must also submit to drug testing and stay in drug treatment with the doctor who has treated him for the last 2 ½ years for 18 months. If he can stay clean, the District Attorney will drop the charge.
"Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor shopping, and we continue to hold this position," said Black in a statement announcing the agreement. "Accordingly, we filed today with the Court a plea of 'Not Guilty' to the charge filed by the State. This was a common sense resolution and the appropriate way the state should treat people who have admitted an addiction to prescription pain medication and voluntarily sought treatment," Black said.
He did not mention that Limbaugh did not "voluntarily" seek treatment until after his pill-popping and doctor-shopping came to light. Florida prosecutors accused him of illegally deceiving multiple doctors to satisfy his hunger for Oxycontin. After seizing Limbaugh's medical records, they learned he had received up to 2,000 painkillers prescribed by four different doctors in a six-month period.
"Do you think if there was any real evidence, we would have reached a settlement?" a gloating Limbaugh said Monday on his radio show.
But as his attorney noted above, the plea deal was "a common sense resolution" to a case of an admitted addict. Likewise, former US Attorney and Miami defense lawyer Kendall Coffey told the Associated Press that Limbaugh's deal was "standard" for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders in the area.
While Limbaugh may have developed a sensitivity about the need for treatment for drug dependent people (or at least for himself), he is substantially less generous to others seeking to use banned drugs like marijuana as medicine. Just two weeks ago, when the Food and Drug Administration declared there is no evidence of marijuana's medicinal value, Limbaugh was in typical form: "The FDA says there's no -- zilch, zero, nada -- shred of medicinal value to the evil weed, marijuana. This is going to be a setback to the long-haired, maggot-infested, dope-smoking crowd."
It looks like in Limbaugh's world, some patients are more equal than others.
Editor's Note: DRCNet's position is that no one, including Rush Limbaugh, should be subjected to criminalization for drug use or drug seeking, whether from an addiction, a medical condition or otherwise. We also think police departments probably shouldn't post booking web pages online as we linked to above.