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Monday, June 27, 2011

Pharmacy Massacre Sparks Reform Talk

If you follow the news it is easy to see that prescription drug use has become an epidemic, one to parallel the crack cocaine epidemic of the eighties. Looking back on the eighties, it was not until addicts started committing violent acts in order to acquire their drug that the government began to "crack" down. Today, we are seeing a similar trend with prescription narcotics like oxycodone, whereby people will go to any length to get their drugs even if it means killing innocent people. As was the case last week in a pharmacy on Long Island, where Suffolk County Police say David Laffer walked into the pharmacy on June 19 shortly after 10 a.m. He never even announced his intentions when he opened fire, killing a clerk, the pharmacist and two customers. Laffer escaped with a backpack of pain killers, his wife, Melinda Brady, was at the wheel of the getaway car, according to the prosecutors working the case.

It was not much of a surprise when police arrested them three days later at their home only a mile and a half from the pharmacy. It is only natural that state officials and law makers like Sen. Charles Schumer are calling for a federal plan to crack down on such behavior. Armed robberies at pharmacies rose 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. Nearly 2,800 drug store robberies occurred across the country since 2006, and the abuse of pain killers was up 400-percent in the past decade, CBS reported.

“Once they become crazed, as you say, and they need these drugs they do lots of bad things,” said Schumer. “We’re trying to stop them from getting to that stage.” The Senator along will many others across the nation believe that tougher penalties need to be in place and enforced in order to curb this ever growing problem. "We make the penalties for robbing pharmacies for these drugs not just an ordinary theft, but much more severe," he said. "That would, A, when the criminals are caught they're going to stay in jail a longer time and B, be a deterrent."

Officials need to be careful so that we do not have a repeat of the draconian Rockefellar drug laws that are still responsible for non-violent drug offenders' prison time. They need to be careful to distinguish the addict from the criminal who will kill innocent people in a pharmacy to get a fix.


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