Over the last year or so I've struggled with some health problems that caused my doctor to prescribe one of the medicines now named by drug enforcers as a primary target, according to the Houston Chronicle ("Southeast Texas called 'mecca' for pill pushers," Oct. 22). So if I'm driving or out in the world and have my medication with me (as I've been advised to), if a cop sees me with it will I be arrested?
I wonder: How much documentation must I carry with me to imbibe prescribed medication? Under what circumstances would possession be illegal and when would it be okay?
I was also disturbed to learn about a bill signed by Governor Perry that I'd missed during the 80th Legislature, expanding DPS regulatory authority to include most medicines. That's just wrong: I want doctors regulating my prescriptions, not cops! Reported the Chronicle:
The DEA classifies drugs in "schedules" or levels, based on the risk of abuse. Drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and heroin are considered level 1 and have no accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S.
The level 2 drugs, such as the painkiller OxyContin, are available by prescription but are regulated at the federal level by the DEA and at the state level. Pharmacies electronically transmit prescription information to the Department of Public Safety, which works with licensing boards to identify doctors and pharmacists who may be inappropriately prescribing or dispensing drugs.
This summer, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill that would expand monitoring by DPS to include level 3 through level 5 drugs, which would include Xanax and drugs combined with hydrocodone, which are levels 4 and 3, respectively.
State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said he sponsored the bill to give Texas law enforcement agencies the tools to investigate drugs that are classified as less prone to abuse by requiring all prescriptions for controlled substances to be sent electronically to DPS. The official enforcement date for the law is September 2008.
Still, some law enforcement officials in Texas argue that hydrocodone and Xanax should be grouped with more addictive drugs and targeted separately — not with other schedule 3, 4 and 5 drugs. They are pushing for the Legislature to reclassify hydrocodone and Xanax as level 2 drugs, which would make them subject to far greater scrutiny, similar to OxyContin, officials said.
"We have to change the overall approach that the state has in regards to regulation, " said Houston Police Lt. Gray Smith, with the narcotics division.
Honestly, I don't want my prescription information transferred to DPS, and I don't think most Texans know that that happens. Did you? I'm fairly shocked by it. I wonder what they do with all that data?
ADDENDUM: This story from KHOU gives a fuller picture of the real problem: If the real source of crime is stolen or black market drugs, how does it help to gather information on legal prescription holders?