Maryland attempts to crack down on prescription drug crime

Maryland attempts to crack down on prescription drug crime

Many people are under the mistaken impression that prescription drug offenses are less serious than crimes involving illegal street drugs. However, this is not the case. Potential penalties for prescription medication crimes can be the same as other drug offenses. Further, if lawmakers get their way, the government will soon crack down even harder on prescription drug misuse.

According to news sources, the number of people abusing painkillers and other prescription medications in Maryland has jumped in recent years. Statistics show that prescription painkillers, stimulants and depressants have become the most commonly abused drugs after marijuana. In fact, experts estimate that more than 6,000 Americans misuse a pain reliever for the first time each day. In our state alone, the number of individuals seeking treatment for prescription drug addiction increased from 3,400 to more than 7,000 in only three years.

Why has prescription drug misuse grown so significantly? Many say it’s because these drugs are easily available, particularly for teens and young adults. They claim doctors prescribe these medications for a wide range of medical conditions, and online pharmacies make it fairly easy to obtain the drugs.

To stop this trend, the authorities want to institute a monitoring system that would make pharmacies record each prescription they fill. This would let prescribers, emergency rooms and urgent care facilities check for any existing prescriptions before issuing new prescriptions for the same drugs.

Many expect the 2011 General Assembly to pass legislation to institute this monitoring system, which would be funded by federal money. At this time, Maryland is one of only a handful of states that does not have a monitoring system in place.

Illegal use of prescription drugs is a growing issue throughout our state. Given the powerful and addictive nature of painkillers and other medication, legitimate use can easily evolve into illegal possession, distribution or even prescription fraud. Therefore, anyone charged with a prescription drug crime should aggressively fight the charge.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Maryland seeks to tackle prescription drug problem,” Meredith Cohn, 2 April 2011

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