By Steve Ariens,
It is hard to figure out if the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is not listening to anyone. For sure, it has very select hearing and/or agenda regardless of what is being said or facts that are coming forward.
The DEA evolved from The Control Substance Act (CSA) in 1970. Originally the CSA created the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) that became the DEA in 1973. Many believe that the DEA’s primary charge is to prevent drug diversion, but in reality, its primary charge is to arrest those who divert/use/abuse illegal substances. The DEA is part of the Dept of Justice (DOJ) and they are LAW ENFORCEMENT.
But they are a “special” sort of law enforcement, they have the authority to make new interpretations of the CSA and then go out an enforce the interpretation that they just made.
One has to ask, why is the use/abuse of opiates illegal? Back in 1917 our judicial system declared that opiate addiction was a CRIME and not a DISEASE and our judicial system is still working under this unenlightened century old decree. Both our current and previous Surgeons General have stated that addiction - all addictions - are a mental health disease and not a moral failing.
So here we sit with two different federal agencies with conflicting opinions concerning addiction - particularly opiates or other substances that the DEA has declared have no valid medical use.
The DEA is large. It started with 1200 employees and a $43 million annual budget. Today that the war on drugs currently costs $81 billion annually with over 12,000 employees. By the way, the current number of dedicated opiate abusers has remained constant, around 1% of the population.
What could explain such open-ended funding of the DEA? Could it be that about 40% of Congress is attorneys, who are part of the judicial system.
Anyone who has ever dealt with an attorney you know how good they are at generating billable hours and revenue and the more things that Congress causes the DEA to have people to arrest the more money that flows thru the private jails, court systems, judges, prosecuting and defense attorneys… the entire judicial system partakes of this $81 billion-dollar expenditure.
Could it be that the DEA can be oblivious to the facts that are coming to the surface because our Congress or some senior members of Congress have their collective back?
After all, Congress gave the DEA the right to civil asset forfeiture law and has done nothing to rein in their activity of seizing assets of people without even charging 85% of them with a crime and then making it extremely difficult to recover their assets?
Could an influential someone in Congress persuade the CDC to produce those opiate dosing guidelines, - something that even the DEA couldn’t pretend to have the authority to get published. Add to it that they were produced behind closed doors with “supposedly” anonymous committee members. We heard the head of the CDC declaring that the guidelines did not bear the weight of law… conveniently as this same person is “heading out the door” and the Veterans Administration has already moved forward on implementing these guidelines?
In the two years since the CDC released those guidelines, many other within healthcare community have adopted them, including insurance companies, Prescription Benefits Managers, corporate healthcare providers. Many state legislatures have passed laws with the same, similar or even stricter opiate dosing and now the CMS appears to be aligning with these same guidelines.
All the while, those in the chronic pain community send letters, emails, faxes, letters to their representatives in Congress about how the war on drugs had turned on those pts that had valid medical needs for taking opiates. Only to get back form letters expressing concerned about the opiate crisis.
Could the CDC, DEA, CMS and other federal agencies just be doing the “covert bidding” of some powerful members of Congress?
What we do know at this point is that since the CDC guidelines have been published the number of deaths/suicides of chronic pain patients has increased. the cost of treating chronic pain pts would surpass the cost of treating diabetes if it was properly treated.
Since Jan 1, 2011 there have been 10,000/day baby boomers become eligible for Medicare, and this will continue for at least another 11 yrs. As the oldest baby boomer reaches their expected life expectancy, the social security fund is projected to go into a negative cash flow status.
Is there a covert agenda here? Who is the puppeteer and who are the puppets?
Steve Ariens, P.D. is a retired pharmacist and chronic pain activist who is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report.