New drug laws will make a difference

Jul 26, 2013

The fight against prescription and synthetic drugs just got a little easier for law enforcement thanks to several new laws and a few local leaders dedicated to the cause.

Prescription pill addiction has been a mounting problem nationwide and locally for the last decade, and the addition of synthetics to the drug scene has only perpetuated addiction, especially for young people.

In Haywood County, the number of overdose deaths investigated by the medical examiner lingers at about 25 percent.

It’s been difficult for law enforcement officers to confront these drug problems head-on because of limitations in the law. Earlier this year, Sen. Jim Davis began working closely with local law enforcement leaders, especially Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed, to draft bills to help officers combat the drug issue that is so greatly affecting our community.

When it came to synthetics, as quickly as one chemical combination was banned, manufacturers came out with another legal brand.

Though Davis’ original bill that would have been a blanket ban on synthetics was altered, the current legislation is better than before.

The new law will cover all of the chemical combinations found in synthetics right now and should put a damper on the problem until better legislation can be drafted.

Another new law requires pharmacists to report patient prescription information into the statewide database called the controlled substance reporting system no later than 72 hours. This allows other doctors and pharmacists to check the database and prevent patients from abusing the system by “doctor shopping” for pills.

The law also allows specially trained officers access to the system, which was not possible before. This change will make it much easier for detectives to investigate cases involving the abuse and sale of prescription medication.

It’s a shame, however, that a bill that would have required physicians and dentists to use the statewide controlled substances reporting system did not pass into law, as that could possibly play a large role in preventing “doctor shopping.”

Currently, a mere 10 percent of the doctors and dentists signed up for the system even use it. As Sen. Davis said, the system will never work 100 percent if everyone is not fully making use of it. Hopefully physicians will take note of what a difference they can make just by taking the time to put prescription information into the database.

Hats off to Sen. Davis and other legislators who took notice of the problem and stepped up to make a difference. It’s a relief to know that legislators are willing to listen to police officers and work with them to fight drug problems and prevent even more death.