American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
July 29th, 2009
08:03 AM ET

Commentary: America's drug problem got so bad because we didn't raise the alarm

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/29/am.intv.gil.drug.czar.art.jpg
caption="Kerlikowske says drugs that come out of parents’ medicine cabinets are just as deadly as other drugs."]

Michael Jackson’s alleged addiction to prescription drugs has been part of the ongoing investigation into his death. Dr. Conrad Murray is said to have given Jackson the powerful anesthetic Propofol to help him sleep. Police believe that drug may have contributed to his death.

Director of the office of national drug control policy at the White House, R. Gil Kerlikowske spoke with CNN’s John Roberts Wednesday

John Roberts:
I wanted to ask this, not as a law enforcement question but from a substance abuse perspective which falls into your arena. To use the drug Propofol, which is used either as a sedative for surgery or a general anesthetic, to use it as a sleeping medication would that constitute the abuse of that drug?

Director R. Gil Kerlikowske:
You know I’m not an M.D. I can tell you the prescription drug issue is really significant throughout the United States. And of course, we've seen that in paper after paper after paper. I don't have the facts about the Michael Jackson case, the very sad and tragic loss that occurred there, but I can tell you that prescription drug problems are a problem in this country.

Roberts: The police and drug enforcement administration are looking to whether or not he used aliases to try to get drugs, whether he was doctor shopping. We hear about people doctor shopping and prescription drug abuse. How did it get so bad in this country?

Kerlikowske: I think it got so bad because we didn't raise the alarm. It's been bad for a while. If you look, the most recent data, which unfortunately is 2006, tells us that more people have died from overdoses than have died from gunshot wounds in this country. And frankly, this is something that in many ways can be prevented.

Roberts: So, when you talk about prevention, you talk about trying to curb demand and education from that standpoint. And then there's also enforcement. How do you effectively enforce something like this? You take a look at the fact that more than 56 million prescriptions were written for sleeping medication in 2008 alone, that's up 54% since 2004.

Kerlikowske: Well, there are two things. One is that 38 states have prescription drug monitoring programs. These are electronic databases and they help health officials and in some cases depending on how the law is written, law enforcement. And they can look at over-prescribing by a physician but they can also look at patients who are, as you mentioned, doctor shopping. The other thing, of course, is that a lot of this comes out of parents' medicine cabinets.

Parents can do an awful lot. We have a website, http://www.Theanti-drug.Com. Parents can get a huge amount of information. We've seen significant problems with kids that have experimented thinking that, ‘hey, these are prescription drugs, these are safe,’ and, in fact, they are just as deadly and just as addictive as anything that comes from anyplace else.

Roberts: You came to this job from your former job. You were the police chief of Seattle. Was it possible in Seattle to effectively police this?

Kerlikowske: It's a very difficult thing to police but I think the prevention piece is by far one of the most important parts and that parents can do an awful lot. These prescription drug monitoring programs in Washington state, where I just left, is under way. Those are great programs to help law enforcement and officials to deal with the problem.

Roberts: The two things that go hand in hand, too, prevention and treatment. You're there in Mexico City and the Mexican government has undertaken a pilot program to establish drug courts for those found guilty of committing crimes while under the influence of drugs may not be sentenced to jail, rather they may be put into treatment programs. There's a rising call in this country for something similar. Rather than put these drug offenders in jail, put them in treatment programs. Do you think the Mexican model is something that could be repeated effectively here?

Kerlikowske: I think that the drug courts are incredibly positive turn for the Mexican government. They're undergoing tremendous stress. President Calderon, without question…is by far one of the most courageous leaders in the free world to take this on. The balanced approach that they're using, which is tough law enforcement on the traffickers and seizures, but also treatment. And drug courts came from the United States. We've actually been assisting the government of Mexico with this. They're 20 years old. They're over 2,000 drug courts in the United States and I think they've been proven effective.

Roberts: But, again, there are people who say we're putting too many drug offenders in jail that we need to reach out more to the treatment side of things. Do we need to do a better job of that in this country?

Kerlikowske: I do. I do. And the United States it's without question, a more balanced approach, a focus on prevention and a focus on treatment. You know, treatment works. And the Obama administration recognizes that addiction is a disease. It’s a disease, like a lot of other diseases. It isn’t a moral failure of somebody. There are treatments for it. We have seen, I have met personally now in 2 1/2 months, dozens of people who have successfully been through treatment, successfully turned their lives around. You know, they’re back in their neighborhoods, they’re working, they’re productive and paying taxes. It's a wonderful thing.


Filed under: Commentary • Crime
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. jean

    My whole family smokes pot and we all have good jobs,pay our taxes and live very good lives. We don't drink and I never have to worry about my kids driving while intoxicated.The alcohol companies are so powerful in the state I live in that our elected officials won't even think of raising the taxes on it,just cigarettes.Personally, I think the government should stay out of my home and what I do in it. We aren't hurting anyone and just want to be left alone.We are a happy,well-adjusted family who love each other very much and tell each other that everyday! How many of you can say that?

    July 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  2. rudd188

    In response to Rob R. I would be willing to accept your remarks regarding the series problems people in treatment face due to their use of a pot, if you were to also just as vocal about the dangers of alcohol. I'm 25 and I have had 3 close friends die because a drunk driver hit and killed them. I have another close friend who is in critical condition at this very moment because he was hit by a drunk on a 4-wheeler. If you don't scream as loudly against alcohol as you do about pot, you're hypocrisy boarders on negligence. Please Rob look into the eyes of an alcoholic on a binge and then into stoned pothead's eyes and then tell me who is the bigger danger to society and to themselves. You can rattle against pot all you want, there are valid reasons to do so, but address the bigger danger first or you're just being ignorant.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  3. OTB

    "Uses his marijuanna addiction to mask his alcoholism..."

    Really?? Hmmm... looks like there may be some other forces at work here folks.

    Lazy people are lazy.

    Productive people are productive.

    This is true whether or not they smoke MJ.

    MJ's been linked to Alzheimer prevention and even promoting growth of new brain cells, and it's impossible to overdose.

    Maybe if Micheal had been prescribed MJ to help him get to sleep at night he'd still be alive today. That's true of millions of others who are addicted to Ambien, Oxy, and the rest of the endless list of "safe" and legal drugs in this country. It's all so backwards.

    Not only that, once you take the plant of the pedestal it's so much easier to educate and address abuse. Legalization would also be a disaster for the into the Mexican Cartels that are invading our country and our national forests.

    You know the USA has the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the WORLD??? Land of the Free?! HA!

    July 29, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  4. nancy

    @ Michael ~~ "Michael July 29th, 2009 1:24 pm ET

    Boy, this article really brought out all the pot-head and other loonies and anarchists who argue for legalization of everything under the sun.

    I didn’t know these people even had internet access in the rocks they live under."

    WOW, you know we live in a country where EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion.
    Not everyone is on a sinking ship of narrowmindedness as you are.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  5. American

    Hey Kerlikowske, Just bought a joint off a mexican national...enjoy!

    July 29, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  6. Terry

    For those of you railing on Gil regarding legalization of pot...go do some homework on his past public speeches as Chief of the Seattle PD.

    You are 100% backwards on understanding his stance.

    But you know, this is America, so we can all just spew sh%t before fact checking or, god forbid, digging a bit into our argument.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  7. Stephanie

    You know what is really hard for me. I need a root canal in one tooth and an extraction of a wisdom tooth that I can't afford. I am in terrible pain, that comes and goes (it gets worse at night...but not every night, Thank God) I am not often able to get relief from OTC pain meds and have asked my dentist and doctor if they could precribe pain medicine until I can gather the money together for my dental treatments. The answer is always "No" because of the abuse of these medicines. The dentist can see..the terrible condition that I have to live with and many nights I end up sitting in my car...in order for the children not to hear me crying. I have no insurance, so the "red flag" of pain medicine abuse goes up. (I'm lower class...you know) on the other hand, my sister and her husband, are very well off, with great insurance..and my Brother-in-Law plays golf with other doctors. The result is their house is full of pain medicines (and other medicines) even thought they have no conditions that are causing them pain on a regular basis. Somehow....the answer for them is always "yes" and the answer for me is always "no".....funny isn't it. I've got $600 saved up..toward my dental work....so I think I should be able to have the work done before Halloween comes. Yeah!!!! If I don't kill my liver with the OTC meds first.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  8. nancy

    @ "michael armstrong sr. July 29th, 2009 8:57 am ET

    Theres one thing for shure its not marijuana thats killing people its prescription and meth and cocane the distribution of these drugs start at the pharmacys so thats where law inforcement should start to end it.."

    We can't blame the pharmacies. If the Doc wouldn't fill out the perscription ~~ the pharmacies wouldn't fill it.

    I do agree with everything else you said tho! 🙂

    July 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  9. Kerry

    lets be real here poeple... Alcohol, cigerettes do not directly cause the death of one person or another, its the side effects of when you get behind the wheel and are driving down the road after having a few beers, its the effect of lighting up while driving, or the cancer cause by the cigerette, the serosis(sp?) of the liver for excessive dirnking over the years. Alcohol and cigerettes do not directly lead to death but aid in other just as marijuiana does. reaction times are slower, people are made giddy less aware of thier surroundings. to legalize marijuiana under the impression it has caused zero deaths is ridiculus. it is a factor in just as many deaths as anyting else. it has also been shown to be a gateway drugs to pill abuse and harder drugs. I live in a state known as the biggest meth use and production state in the US and honestly 99% of the people here who started meth began with marijuana. lets grow up and realize that none of this is any good for you. to ban or not to ban is the question but what are we really doing but opening a gateway for further abuse of things we have yet to see.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  10. Michael

    Boy, this article really brought out all the pot-head and other loonies and anarchists who argue for legalization of everything under the sun.

    I didn't know these people even had internet access in the rocks they live under.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  11. ESTHER

    I work at a doctor's office as a nurse. Quite often we get patients who see several doctors for the same medications. There should be some national database that the pharmacies or doctors input patient information in when it is a controlled medication. I have to literally call the other doctor offices and get print outs from the pharmacies about the patient's prescription history. Then what do you do when you find out? You can't cut off their supply because they can go into seizures or sue.
    I think the DEA should make a law that only certain clinics prescribe certain controlled prescriptions, and make frequent monthly visits to audit these clinics to make sure they are in compliance.
    It's a start.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  12. Two_cat sooner

    I couldn't agree with Executor more:
    "Additionally, IDs should be required for all controlled substances (At Doc offices and pharmacies) so that patients can’t use alias and / or pay “cash” for these meds. It’s amazing to me that one can get CII narcotics like Oxycontin and Fentanyl, without any type of identification program. It’s time for the pharmaceutical industry to catch up to modern times and implement better controls."

    If you see drug reps. come into a doc's office, they have all types of laptops and are immediately accessing information and their inventory as to what they plan to go over with the physician. If states such as Oklahoma can implement a state-wide database for the control of sudaphed, there is no excuse for not implementing something for Class II drugs.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  13. Jimmy

    Well first we must re-examine an issue here. As our daily existence becomes more stressful day by day. American people are looking for methods to cope with the stressors of every day life. Americans suffer from more ailments such as heart disease for example than any other nation. We are told we are not allowed to place these chemicals in our bodies and yet are told we are free. It is our bodies to do with them what we will. It was customary in Chinese culture for a man to come home after a long days worth of work and smoke from his opium pipe to relax. Now we are left with two options to RELAX that are so destructive on the body, I still can't seem to grasp the concept as to how they are legal. ALCOHOL and TOBACCO. Both pose great health risks and I've seen what alcohol does to individuals. Everything from the raging lunatic to the overtly happy destructive individuals. Why aren't we attacking alcohol or tobacco to the extent that we do other narcotics? Marijuana on the other hand has limited effects on the health of individuals, promotes eating and generally maintains a similar attitude each time. Just calm. Watch "Reefer Madness". It's all government propaganda. The fact is, they want us to buy their pharmaceuticals and keep the majority of other drugs illegal because they're worth more illegal to the system. It's a bigger payout. Politicians are invested in pharmaceuticals. They don't want you buying them off the street, they want a legitimate prescription so they get their cut. They're just concerned with someone other than themselves profiting. It's called GREED. We're born tagged and have our ziploc bag waiting for us.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  14. smarter than you

    "America’s drug problem got so bad because we didn’t raise the alarm"

    What a load of bull. It got so bad because people got so RICH from it. Now that the economy and healthcare has fallen out people can't buy the drugs legally from the government, and now it's a problem.

    I'm hoping that this forced sobriety opens some eyes. Your leaders have been keeping you and your kids doped up. It's time to end the drug war. Give it up government you lost the public war. But, you've gotten rich from the dope. Now, just legalize it all and tax it, and become the drug dealers you've been for decades. Legalization will be even easier than selling crack to the blacks in the ghetto. You guys remember that back in the 80's right?

    July 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  15. Terry Cadle

    This conversation is all very fine but when is the larger more important question of our country's pharmaceutical addiction to the other life threatening drugs such as oxycontin going to be addressed-
    and the medical community's responsibility in those addictions and deaths.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  16. Dustin

    I have witnessed first hand on the dangers of prescription drugs. A few family memebers has the addiction to pain meds. To the point where diluldid doesnt work well...its sad, although its societies fault on this one. We demonize cannabis and lied to the public for over 80 years calling it from everything like the devils weed to the downfall of american society.
    The real downfall is every drug that is legal...nicotine, alcohol, and even sugars yes sugars. I am an Obama supporter , but the drug Czar is a remake of Barry McCafrey and we all remember him....
    I have never seen in my life any hard core evidence that marijuana is harmfull. Shame on you America for condoning the abuse of prescription drugs....because a doctor wrote you a note and said, its all right....

    July 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  17. jjay

    Having been in the drug testing industry for over a decade, we have known prescription drugs are an issue, and peole have passed drugs tests while on drugs. This is an issue and many have tried to sound the alarm with limiyed success.. However, money has trumped need, and both private companies and government agencies most often choose the cheapest route, testing on for the "NIDA 5", if even that. (street drugs) If we want to address the problem, it must start from the beginning- assessment/testing. It means that testing panels MUST include the pain management and other therapeutic drugs that are being diverted from those they are prescribed to to others. As well, the appropriate person may take the drug, even as prescribed, but STILL chooses to drive while influenced (dare I say impaired?) by these drugs.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  18. Robert

    After falling thru a roof and sustaining massive injuries, I was prescribed Oxycontin to manage my pain. I am also a cannabis user. After being on pain pills for more than five years, it is no longer pain management. It is addiction management. My doctor is totally against me using cannabis indicating that the combination of the two could be lethal (after heavy research might conclusion is that it is not true). He will freely prescribe me pain pills but is absolutely against the use of cannabis. It's funny on how I can stop smoking whenever the need arises but I will have to enter a drug rehab in order to be weaned off pain pills.
    Both doctors and government are afraid for me to take my health issues into my own hands. They think they know what's best for me. I don't need the doctor or the government telling me what I can or cannot do. They'll gladly prescribe a narcotic that has been known to kill. But I am not allowed to take a natural herb for my pain. Pain meds $500 a month. Marijuana $100 per month. I'm starting to think that it is all about the money and not my health.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  19. Daryl

    I think that there is another issue here that is not being talked about. People think that the drugs that their doctor prescribed are safe because their doctor recommended them and in the eyes of most patients they don't understand that doctors are people too and there for make mistakes too. We have made a distinction in society that legal drugs are safe and the illegal ones are dangerous. When in fact Marijuana would be a safer alternative to some of these drugs.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  20. Matt

    I have to tell you that reading all of the comments above I can understand many of the wildy varied viewpoints. But you can tell that these viewpoints have obviously been shaped by a negative experience on one side of the issue and complete lack of experience/proper information on the other side of the issue that has completely clouded judgement and taken away the ability to make a positive, rational decision. When did we as a culture stop respecting individuals and leaders with the ability to make a "wise" decision that does not cater to extreme views on either side of every issue? That being said, how can we complain that Congress and others in policy making/law enforcement are not making positive rational decisions on these issues when 95% of the people above can't either? That also being said, I feel I have to comment that the posting from "John" at 11:40 ET might actually be one of the most uninformed, harmful statements I have ever seen on this thing we call the internet, though he probably said it just for attention.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  21. michele

    Can sure tell the druggies on this site with their crippled literacy and conspiracy theories and rationalizations. I hope you're happy! I lost my brother to drugs and lived with a man who was so high and half-lidded and stupid most of the time, I felt as if I were living alone. He told me he couldn't give it up. If it's not addictive, why is it such a habit for all the potheads who commented here? Why so furiously defend it with irrational argument? Be honest with yourselves. You are drug addicts and cannot participate in the beauty and clarity that is life.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  22. Mike

    The answer to this issue is not more regulation, law enforcement or invasion of one's privacy or rights. The answer is for Americans to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. Many of these drugs do provide a very useful and necessary benefit to those in pain and the last thing we need are doctors reluctent to prescribe for pain. That's exactly whar our drug laws and policies have led to and once again America takes the spotlight for stupidity and ignorance. I am surprised that nobody has commented on the obvious fact that prescription abuse has increased primarily because of drug testing. Opiates leave the body quite quickly (two-three days) whereas marijuana stays in the body (non psycho active) for up to thirty days. Go figure!

    July 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  23. lindsey

    You can't get addicted to something you don't first use. If a doctor prescribes something, that's one thing, but becoming a crack addict or a herione addict is absolutely a moral failure. Nobody presribes illegal drugs. This guy is claiming lack of self control and discipline is a disease.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  24. john matthews

    I love how our country caters to the uneducated. This man is in charge of the drug policy in the United States of America, one of the most developed countries on the planet and the first thing he says is "You know I’m not an M.D." What? A person who controls illicit substances, both benign and malignant, should have some coronal knowledge of chemistry or at least a background in medicine. Notwithstanding he was a former police chief, but for a person to advise on drug policy I would like them to have a bleak understanding of what they are talking about. Illegal, prescription, over the counter, our "drug czar" should know the exact, not biased effects, of what these drugs can do to your body.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  25. adle1984

    Great insight by nimo1776 – July 16, 2009 – 4:45 AM EDT

    Bold text added for emphasis.

    Motivated people smoke pot and unmotivated people smoke pot. Good people smoke pot and bad people smoke pot. Marijuana use does not define a person, contrary to the propaganda put out by you and other zealot and paid for by taxpayers.

    Here is a short list of the lazy, mindless potheads:

    Carl Sagan, World renowned Astronomer who said "The illegality of cannabis is outrageous"

    Barack Obama, Not only can you grow up to be ridiculously smart, you can grow up to be President.

    Sir Richard Branson, the self made 236th richest person in the world.

    Michael Bloomberg, The Mayor of New York. Did he smoke pot when he was younger. In his own words "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it!"

    Ted Turner, a billionaire, named Time's Man of the Year in 1991, the largest private land owner in America, Not what you'd expect from a guy who grew pot in his college dorm room. You can not shine this pot heads shoes

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, In the classic documentary Pumping Iron, is smoking, and loving, a joint. According to Arnold, marijuana "is not a drug, it's a leaf." I ll take his word over yours on this.

    Mark Stepnoski...two-time Super Bowl champion. Who confirmed "responsible use" of marijuana during his pro career."

    Stephen King, one of the most vocal proponents for the legalization of marijuana, calling laws against the drug "ridiculous," like your argument

    Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, His 14 gold medals, makes you look lazy. All those millions spent on adds to tell us pot heads are not motivated have gone up in smoke.

    Ricky Williams, another great NFL player, a former spokesperson for the antidepressant Paxil, the endorsement deal ended when Williams told ESPN that "marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil."

    Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, and 1998 Olympic gold medalist.

    Montel Williams, one of medical marijuana's staunchest defenders.

    Rick Steves, Author of 27 top selling European travel guides, host of his own TV show and radio show, and a very outspoken pothead.

    Aaron Sorkin, His work on The West Wing, both as writer and producer, earned him multiple Emmy Awards, and countless nominations for other awards.

    Willie Nelson enough said.

    There are millions of productive Americans who use marijuana.

    The following comes from an article that ran in Forbes Magazine:

    "I personally know boxers, body builders, cyclists, runners and athletes from all walks of life that train and compete with the assistance of marijuana," said WWE wrestler Rob Van Dam.

    Some of the best cricket players of all time, like Phil Tufnell and Sir Ian Botham, have admitted to regularly using marijuana. In 2001, half of South Africa's cricket team was punished after being caught toking up with the team physiotherapist.

    Regular marijuana use didn't impede the ability of basketball legends like Rasheed Wallace, Charles Oakley or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Indeed, Oakley has claimed that over half of NBA players smoke pot before each game. Since these players are top athletes whose career depends on them being at peak performance for every game, it stands to reason that perhaps they are using marijuana because it provides some benefit to their abilities on the court.

    Cannabis can actually enhance and improve human abilities. Discovering how toking up possibly helps the world's greatest athletes to better their performance could also teach us how this plant can better serve us all.

    To get back to your argument: Kids can get pot easier than beer. What have you done [speaking about Prohibition] but made it easier to get, take responsibility for your actions. Your position is ridiculous, and your own facts prove it.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  26. Britney's_Fears

    LEGALIZE IT!

    July 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  27. readynow

    I go to a pain clinic I was referred there by my doctor for an issue with my neck, I have compression on my C5c disc and have tried steroid injections with little effect, I do see people in there that look like they don't need to be there and of course there are the legimate clients including myself LOL.. some people call pain clinics nothing but crack house without the crack, anyone can feign an illness its up the the doctor to determine whether its legimate or not, however these clinic do serve a good purpose for people who really need narcotics for pain, tylenol doesn't cut it, I was giving Diprivan which is the same as Propofol for a Colonoscopy it works great knocks you right out just like general anesthesia but without the long term groggyness, Some mentioned Euphoria which doesn't make sense since it knocks you out completely,

    Anyway I can't fathom in a million years how Jacksons Doctor fed him this on a regular basis this without a doubt is crimminal he killed Michael but with Michaels help, A good doctor would have told him know period what was this Quack thinking Oh Let me Guess was it Dollrs Signs.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  28. Chris

    This country is a joke. Why do we like to fight wars with methods that make it impossible win? Legalize all soft drugs. Quit wasting my tax contributions on programs and policies that don't work. And, quit giving jobs to people who are ignorant and close-minded!

    July 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  29. Concerned

    What is wrong with this headline.
    Michael J. is remembered and his doctor is a target. Did this doctor hold this ediot down and force him to take drugs. Quit blaming everyone but the idiot that wanted the drugs. Why is logic lost to media and political gain and ratings.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  30. Carl

    Rob R July 29th, 2009 11:21 am ET

    "I grow increasingly tired of people excusing or defending marijuana use I continue to see dozens of kids each month who are ADDICTED to it. Marijuana is loaded with THC through cross-breeding, feminization, growing methods and additives."

    Another ridiculous statement with no merit. Feminization has Zero bearing on potency nor do the growing methods. Potency is strictly determined by genetics. And those additives you mentioned...HA, you must mean fertilizer! Get the facts straight folks. It's about time to stop regurgitating the propaganda!

    July 29, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  31. Cyndee

    Some of these measures will certainly help, but remember that an addict will find a fix. When they can't find Oxycontin, or can't afford to buy it on the streets, they often turn to heroin as a cheaper substitute.
    Therefore, the issue of addiction continues.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  32. cathy

    I want to know how Michael Jackson first found out about this stuff? I say find the first guy who gave it to him for sleeping. because, thats where the mis-information started. What nut job Dr. would even suggest this type of sleeping aide. It's not even a sleeping aide it puts you in a coma no REM sleep with this stuff.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  33. JM

    I've personally experienced the effects of doctor's stereotyping people because of these so called "crackdowns". I have recurring bouts with kidney stones, usually a couple a yr. Several weeks ago, my regular Dr. refused to write me a prescription for pain medicine after a CT scan showed several in both kidney's but none he considered an immediate problem. He explained that a kidney stone does not cause pain until it has entered the uretherea tube and caused a blockage. I know this to not be true because some of the worst pain I've experienced were ones that were still in the kidney too large to enter the tube and had to be removed through surgery. I reminded him of my history with the stones and no history with requesting pain med's when not necessary. He responded that it did not matter, he still had to medically justify writing a prescription for a controlled substance. A couple of day's later, I passed a stone and another one this week. I also last yr. had an episode with a large stone while in Las Vegas. the emergency room Dr. advised me i needed surgery to have it removed and advised that I would be better off trying to make it home to my own urologist as I had a flight out the next day back to the east coast.. I agreed this should not be a problem as long as I had pain meds. He wrote me a RX for 10 low dose pain pills. when I questioned this he responded that they were heavily monitored on controlled substance RX's because of a problem with people selling them for gambling money. Sorry for venting.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  34. sandy

    This is druz czar is a COP not a doctor. What is going to happen next in the US of Russia? Is he going to appoint a homeless man to head Homeland Security? Why not? Think that won't happen? These people know what is going on in the trenches. What is happening to our country. I want my country back do't you???

    July 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  35. Fred DuBose

    Sorry, that's the way it is. The truth hurts and the country is riddled with pain except those at the top with the money and political power.Fred DuBose

    July 29, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  36. FairyTinkerbell

    Michael Jackson was a long-time resident of California where he could have received a Medical 215 prescription for marijuana, a far less lethal option. I agree with the early post that a Drug Czar is a facist because all we are doing is financing the oppression of developing nations with our drug wars. Check out the article in Mother Jones this month.

    Drug addiction belongs in the hand of the medical community and not law enforcement.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  37. Vicky Bevis

    On the other side, as a retired nurse, I am concerned about patients who really DO need the extra pain removing effects of narcotics esp. the dying whom I've worked with.

    My experience as a patient over the yrs has been that I get too little pain reducing meds. when I have surgery or for some other reason. I have a high tolerance to pain ( never take anything at the dentists') & it is like pulling teeth ( all puns intended-lol) to convince the Dr. that I NEED a higher dose of meds. just to "take the edge" off of pain, not even relieving all of it.

    I'm married to a long-time sober alky, so against my choice, I know a lot about addiction & the pain & insanity that goes with it for the non-addicted partner. And "there but for the Grace of God...........". He has NEVER been sick or in a hospital until recently ( incredible record; wasn't even BORN in a hospital) & we used to talk & worry a bit about the day that would inevitably come where he might need narcotics. He's breezed through with no desire to go back to an "altered state" which is wonderful knowledge to have & relieves me immeasurably.

    I've been so surprised that a "clearning house" hasn't been put together before now to deal with the "Dr. Feelgoods" that routinely prescribe controlled substances like they were "M & M's." It goes back as far as Pres. Kennedy & his Dr. from N.Y. who later lost his license. The Pres. of the USA was getting shots of, among other things, amphetamines!

    Both my husband & I have had propofol in the last 4 months for a colonoscopy ( gold standard drug) & a "greenlight" procedure for enlrged. prostate & I didn't get any euphoria although my husband did with his. So, it just goes back to how some people metabolize the drug or ANY drug for that matter.

    The real problem is to make a society where people don't WANT to use drugs to deal with the emotional pain of everyday living. And we also need more pain specialists for those of us who live daily with chronic pain & don't want to get addicted.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  38. rob420

    close ur trap rob r and michele, you don't know a thing about Mary J. What do you mean people are addcited to mary well into the middle age ? So what? Like people aren't addicted to coke, cigarettes, heroin, alcohol into the middle ages??? really dumb comment by you!!! I've been smoking since I was fifteen I have a good job and about to graduate college, married to my lovely wife of 10 years which she too loves to smoke and also about to graduate with a law degree.How does it mask alcoholism ? i dont drink! and i use to be a heavy drinker, but not anymore thanks to mary J! GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!!! More people have died and or committed horendous acts of violence while under the influence of other drugs than my mary j. and plus My Mary J is not PROCESSED no ADDITTIVES added(compare that to tobacco). It grows au naturel with love and sunlight just like a regular plant (which it is) but a very good medicinal herb. Thank you MY lord for creating this wonderful plant you put here on this EARTH!!!

    P.S. People are not addicted to Mary J, but choose to smoke it!
    P.S.S. We can stop smoking Mary J anytime ,but choose not to!!
    P.S.S.S If everybody smoked Mary J ,This world would be a better place!!!

    July 29, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  39. A. Cayne

    Just becuase you have a prescription for drugs does not mean you have to take them. It is not left up to the doctor, lawyer, or nurses, it is left up to the individual. It is about time for us to take responsibility for our own actions and stop blaming everyone else. This country is never going to get anywhere because of the "finger pointing mentatility."

    July 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  40. michele

    Try living with a chronic pot smoker who is deprived of pot for a few days. They are impossible and will do whatever it takes to get high in the meantime. When they tell you "I can't live without pot." Tell me it's not addictive. I believe it has it's uses: appetite stimulant for cancer patients, but anything that anesthetizes the mind is addictive. It accustoms the pleasure centers of the brain to euphoria. They cannot deal with life sober if they smoke pot daily for no other reason but to get high.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  41. Fred DuBose

    The "Wingnuts" and lobbyist/congressional relationships are the two most destructive power sources affecting our economy and culture.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  42. Dick

    As a physician with thirty years of experience I cannot help assign a majority of the blame for the drug problems, both legal and illegal pharmaceuticals, and the entire healthcare debacle on the incompetence and ignorance of the political and bureaucratic attempts at a solution. Physicians have unfortunately abdicated control of medicine and look at the results: lots of untrained and unqualified folks calling the shots. Things will likely not get better folks and this is a sad commentary, indeed.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  43. Concerned

    This is why people who live in pain every day are denied relief because if you are rich enough you can get all you want. Crooked doctors and idiot politicans keep those who suffer in wasted therapy and wasted tax dollors because honest doctors fear federal and political intervention. As for pot, no one and I mean no one other than religous fanatics and politicans claim it will lead to heavier drugs. There is no sientific proof, yet our prisons are full of people busted for pot. Media will focus on the ediot that overdosed himself or took medicine to get high but very little is ever focused on those that need relief to live pain free and productive lives.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  44. the hat

    Hmm. I thought Gil said he wanted the term "Drug Czar" retired.

    And here's CNN using it on a headline.

    Are you guys just uninformed, or is this some kind of political subversion?

    July 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  45. B-RAD

    The biggest drug dealers on the planet are doctors, pharmaceutical companies and oh yes....don't forget the media. Every other commercial on TV these days is a DRUG that treats everything from a leaky bladder to a "syndrome" that causes your big toe to twitch. .........You may get headaches, nausea, cramps, dizzy spells and completely wreck your liver from them,... but your toe will stop twitching......and money will be made.

    Drug use has been around since the dawn of man and will continue to be around until the end of man.

    I know many upstanding recreational drug users who are very productive, lead normal lives with children and grandchildren.....oh... can't forget to mention...... pay their taxes too, Mr. I make my living preventing drug use Czar guy.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  46. Michele

    There is talk about marijuana, Rx drugs, drug Czars, etc. Let's not forget about Alcohol and the prohibition during the 1930's. Alcohol abuse is very prevalent today (just look at the number of AA support groups around the country; which are amazing support groups!) Obviously prohibition didn't work in the 1930's, will it work now for other drugs? There is no good answer in a "Free" society. I hope that is still what American's want. Our actions are our actions and what we put in our "mouths" is our choice. I am not saying that nothing should be done. I think the earlier comment about education of the society is very important and rehabilitation with a GOOD relapse education portion would be wonderful. A national database for Rx and medical care would be ideal. We ask a lot from our politicians and force them to provide answers, then criticize them. What are our own answers though for ourselves?

    July 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  47. Jeff

    How do any of you people expect to have your ideas taken seriously when you cannot even spell, use basic punctuation or compose a coherent sentence?

    Maybe it's the dead brain cells speaking.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  48. Nick

    haha, looks like ROB R, michele r brainwashed from our STUPID goverment. Marijuana is not addictive its been proven. so plz get ur facts right.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  49. Henry Miller

    Where, oh where, does the US Constitution give the Federal government the power to tell Americans what they may or may not ingest, inject, inhale, or otherwise introduce into themselves? Yeah, abusing Propofol, or probably thousands of other things, is stupid, but trying to make stupidity illegal is utterly pointless.

    The US needs doesn't need a "national drug control policy." It doesn't need moralistic rantings about how people shouldn't be "allowed" to do this or that "for their own good," especially given the grandfathered-in legality of booze and tobacco.

    Abusing drugs isn't very wrong per se and far more harm is done to society by making illegal, and applying stringent, ruinous, sanctions against what isn't wrong. Drug-related crime is almost entirely economic–choking off supply in the face of increasing demand inevitably raises prices and higher prices lead by various means to illegal activity associated with drugs.

    The US would be doing itself a big favour by avoiding trying to make illegal that which isn't inherently wrong.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  50. john doe

    prohibition does not work. it has never worked. if pot were legal it would not necessarily prevent our children from experimentation, but it would reduce that option. treat it like alcohol. Marijuana does not make people lazy. People are lazy anyways. sure if your are smoking an indica variant you are probably going to maybe eat a bunch and fall asleep but anyone who has smoked a sativa plant will tell you it is about the same as having an energy drink. I know what it is like being hooked on cigarettes and alcohol – did it for years – there are just better alternatives out there and ones that don't ruin lives.

    ROB R – sorry you live in a box all day.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  51. tim

    Mr. Kerlikowske. Yes a half a million people die from the side affects of prescription meds every year. Their families lose their life savings in the turmoil of deceit and all for unregulated profits of snakeoil venders. And that seems to be ok with the neo cons. How much of our tax payer dollars are being spent on your war on the medicinal herb cannabis which most Americans now know is safe and NONLEATHAL , they educate them selves on the matter, study after study that is legitimately funded with a non biased out line proves this.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  52. Andy S

    After reading his comments last week insisting marijuana has no medical benefits, how can anyone take anything he says seriously?

    July 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  53. Joel

    To M Walston Pharm D regarding Pain Management Clinics:

    Please get your facts straight before you spout off. I have been to two different pain doctors and both have strict policies. You set-up one pharmacy, you sign off on the fact that you will fill no other scripts without contacting the office first, you are required to take random drug testing at your own expense if the doctor has any reason to believe there is an issue. All of this is covered by insurance, including the scripts that are written and never once was cash required (in fact, I usually am billed to make sure I don't overpay since the insurance usually covers 100% of the visit if I am getting a nerve block injection). I have five blown discs in my lumbar region and am constantly in pain. I have suffered through 5 back surgeries including two fusions and the removal of my coccyx. My next step is to put two rods and a cage in my back, but my Orthapedist and my Neuroligist are hesitant since I am only 36. At this point, my only option is pain management. I am on low doses of Morphine as a maintenance drug and Norco as needed for breakthrough pain. I sleep one to three hours a night on average, yet still work full time and help with my wife with the kids (we have five). I see the doctor regularly and all medicines are monitored by both the doctor's office and me.
    As to the Pain doctors dealing exclusively in controlled substances, you again need to check your facts. The doctor I see is not only an MD, but also has a Masters in Psychology and a Bachelors in Theology. He deals with the physical, mental and spirtual side of pain. While I know this is not the norm, I also know he is not the only one out there. Almost all Pain Doctors work with Physical/Occupational Therapists, Physioligists and Nutritionists to try and attack the issues from all sides. Narcotics are the LAST thing that most Pain Doctors want to perscribe.
    Unless you have walked a mile in someone elses shoes, don't offer comment. Without pain medicine, I literally would not be able to sit up. There will always be patients who doctor shop, just like there will always be Pharmacists who skim pills off the shipments and sell them on the side. The legitamate Pain Doctors should not all be crimanilized based on the rotten few you have portrayed.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  54. adle1984

    Bet people (sheeple) didn't know Drug Czars are REQUIRED BY LAW TO LIE:

    http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/stories/2007/10/09/theDrugCzarIsRequiredByLaw.html

    Good read. Based on things like FACTS. Wake up America! Prohibition has caused all of this. The government has been bought out by BIG PHARMA and has ALLOWED them to sell LEGALIZED ADDICTION. When will people realize that Prohibition has not worked, has never worked and will never work?

    Annual Causes of Death in the United States:
    Tobacco 435,000
    Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity 365,000
    Alcohol 85,000
    Microbial Agents 75,000
    Toxic Agents 55,000
    Motor Vehicle Crashes 26,347
    Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 32,000
    Suicide 30,622
    Incidents Involving Firearms 29,000
    Homicide 20,308
    Sexual Behaviors 20,000
    All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect 17,000
    Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin 7,600
    Marijuana 0 (ZERO, as in no one has ever died in the history of written medicine... that's over 5,000 years time span).

    Source: http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/30

    July 29, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  55. Mike D

    You have to be a total fool to believe a word this "expert" says. Not a doctor, but giving medical decisions, stating opinion as fact. His facts are questionable drool. Give me the facts, backed by neutral references, and I will determine my own truth. Know it alls like this are, in my opinion, 90% of the problem

    July 29, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  56. carla

    Hey Rob R.
    I am a recovering alcoholic with 17 years of sobriety, so I would say I am VERY prone to addiction, wouldn't you say? Well, I have absolutely NO problem, NO withdrawl from marijuana when I need to stop for some stupid drug test!!! I continue to smoke because marijuana has NEVER made my life unmanageable, unlike alcohol which I am powerless over. Marijuana is NOT addicting!!!

    July 29, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  57. Dave S.

    I have had the opportunity to review many of the comments posted here, and I read the interview with the drug Czar, R. Gil Kerlikowske.

    Drug abuse in our Country is prolific in so many ways. From methamphetamine labs to smugglers and street dealers to junkies and to normal citizens incorrectly disposing of prescription drugs, the issue of drug issue cannot be tackled one component at a time.

    Drug abuse must be addressed on a multidisciplinary, multi-interdictional, yet unilateral approach. The Drug Enforcement Administration and ATF cannot handle this problem alone. Sealing off our borders will not work. As we all have read, smugglers find very enterprising ways to bring drugs into the Country. It is incumbent on every citizen in this Country to take a proactive approach to mitigating drug abuse.

    My biggest concern is for our youth. Our youth are still malleable and hopefully with proper education and a tenacious conviction, we can at least attempt to prevent the next generations from falling prey to drugs. Volunteer, get involved, educate, dispose of drugs properly, check up on your kids without raising suspicion or the intimation that you do not trust them. Also, know who they hang out with and if they are starting to fall into a crowd that is unhealthy or whose parents are unhealthy, extract them ASAP! Making drugs taboo can either succeed in scaring your kids into using them or wanting them to experiment because of the excitement of rebelling and coming of age.

    Every aspect of drug abuse is frightening and mitigating or reducing their introduction is a neverending task. It is a tremendously daunting issue. I am glad I do not have the Drug Czar's job. There are far to many drugs out there that people don't even think as drugs or have addictive effects, such as caffeine, nicotine, or even some sleeping pills. Pain management is also a contentious area. People should not have to live their lives in constant pain.

    Good luck to everyone. Please get involved somehow and please save those that are still saveable.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  58. Mark

    Boy you can really tell the users from the non-users. What a contrast. Fear vs Anger. Who will win. LET"S GET READY TO... I can't say that, its a copyrighted phrase. You get the picture.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  59. angel a.

    it might help if they stopped advertising pills on tv every 5 minutes!

    July 29, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  60. Executor

    Interesting that the Drug Czar says the Marijuana has "no medical value" and should be stopped yet his own boss, President Obama, has ordered a halt on medical marijuana raids in 11 states, which has effectively legalized it.

    Just a bit of a disconnect don't you think?

    July 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  61. Susan

    We live in Alaska where the Oxycontin usage has become widespread among youth in recent months. Where are they getting the drugs? From their parents and grandparents! As the pill guy up top in the posts says, PAIN MANAGEMENT MD's are responsible! Why would an MD be able to make 150,000 a month of MJ, unless he was crooked? The only way Dr's would not prescribe these deadly drugs, is IF THEY COULD NOT PRESCRIBE these types of narcotics. I see the need for NARCOTIC VENDERS in this country. One vender, one database. Photo ID,SSN, Physical Address, DOB,medical need, and lastly,crooked Dr's name. For every Dr, a sick patient can't even get a pill out of,there are 5 more who will dole out whatever someone wants. Not to even mention the internet ads that go straight to the pharmacutical companies in foreign countries and supply the pills via the US postal service. Oh, and don't even get me started on POT! lol
    -Thanks for allowing me to comment CNN!

    July 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  62. Susan

    The more attention called to this growing problem – the better! Prescription drug abuse cuts a much larger swath than anyone imagines. It cuts across all socio-economic boundaries and the sad thing is that it is affecting younger and younger kids. Parents are in denial or oblivious. Noone wants to admit an addiction problem in their family – but while your head is in the sand, your kid may have a needle in their arm. "Pharm parties" are all the rage with teens. They raid the family medicine cabinet – throw the booty in a bowl – and everyone pops their "candy" of choice. While we are distracted by the economy, the wars, healthcare, the environment – we are losing a generation to hardcore drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Wake up parents – this is not the harmless weed our generation smoked! When you see dilated pupils, blank stares, long sleeves in hot weather, withdrawal, unexplained absences and missing money – there'a a big problem. I've been there with my daughter and I did what I had to do to save her life. I had her arrested for check forgery (mine) and forced her into rehab. She's been clean for over three years now and just graduated from college. We live in a small, upper middle class town – where she tells me she could score Oxycontin within 10 minutes if she wanted to. It's that easy – thanks to unscrupulous doctors, blind-eyed parents, desperate elders selling it to pay for food – these are the new drug dealers.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  63. WB

    As the government looks at cracking down on prescription drug abuse, they also need to look at educating doctors in pain management. I spent three years on pain management – and was made to feel like a criminal. However, between the NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, steriods and narcotics PLUS physical therapy, I was able to return to a normally functioning individual. I shouldn't have to be in tears of pain to get help. But, the more people abuse the medications, and the less that doctors know, the harder it will be for people that need help to get it.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  64. Deb C

    My husband died last year of an OxyContin overdose. A physician who had never seen my husband before gave him a dose of 80 mg twice a day. One, she had no medical records on him, two his blood pressure was sky-high and three he informed her that he had just quit drinking and that he had used drinking to try to deal with his pain. He also informed her that he had been on OxyContin but had not been on it for at least three weeks. All that occured on a Monday. Tuesday evening, I found him dead in his recliner at home. He had taken the 'script as directed (I counted the pills and the count came out correct). Doctors need to be MORE CAREFUL with their prescription pads. Those pads can be a deadly weapon. I guess because I'm not rich or something, this doc is not going to be challenged at all on her actions.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  65. ROBERT

    My wife died from pain meds, we had her in rehabs 3 times in 2 years. Its been a problem for a long time, and no one cared until Anna Nicole and Michel Jackson died. Her pharmist new her by name and had her doctors phone numbers. but were more concerned with selling her more pills.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  66. Frank

    Pot is safer than table salt and should be legal....

    July 29, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  67. Eric

    July 29th, 2009 11:32 am ET

    Thank you, Rob R! I know many people who are addicted to marijuana well into middle age. they are unable to keep jobs, commit to relationships, and often use it to mask alcoholism. The prospect of legal marijuana is terrifying. It’s not just that they use it every day,it’s that every day is all about marijuana!!

    Would you rather these people you know be alcoholics and be DEAD or be still living and happy. You and Ron R need to check yourself into the nearest mental health facility your both suffering from Reefer Madness!!

    July 29, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  68. Jerry RPh

    The president thinks addiction to narcotic analgesics such as Oxycontin® is a real knee-slapping, side-busting joke. Just look at his response to the crude attempt at humor the alleged comedian Wanda Sykes made at the White House Correspondent's dinner 5/9/09. If the "drug czar" is serious about confronting the problem of prescription drug abuse, he should start by confronting the president and ask the president to apologize for laughing at someone making fun of drug addiction. Oh never mind, he should have just chosen his laughter more carefully.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  69. Dave S.

    Dr. Dalmeida:

    In your experience as an Anesthesiologist, do you and/or your colleagues use profofol on a regular basis? If so, what percentage would you say it is used by yourself or your colleagues. The reason for my question is that I just had two surgeries...one was for a uvulapalatapharyngyloplasty (UPPP) and tonsillectomy, and I wondered what anesthetics the anesthesiologist used. When I woke up in the recovery room, I was very anxious and did not have a feeling of comfort or relaxation. Your input is appreciated. Please e-mail me at sarmaglobal@yahoo.com, since I do not frequently check these posts.

    Thank you.

    -Dave S.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  70. Michael Snyder, MD, PhD

    Responsible pain management includes documentation that whatever is being used must have a beneficial effect on quality of life and on functioning.
    Medications are only one part of pain management; there must be an educational component, a physical component and continuous evaluation.
    There are about 60 million Americans with chronic pain that interferes with quality of life and with functional ability. More importantly, chronic pain stresses every organ and reduces life expectancy by 5 to 15 years.
    Despite this epidemic, there are only about 5 thousand physicians in the United States with a primary interest in pain management.
    Several excellent web sites with responsible content are: partners against pain,com, in the face of pain.com, Suboxone.com and samhsa.gov.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  71. andy

    Another reason we need to have a DOCTOR in that office and not another cop.

    Throwing people in jail is their answer to everything.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  72. Matt

    Hey John Doe

    It is the dose that makes the poison. At the correct dosage, all drugs are poisonous.

    Second, why do we have czars!?! They do not abide by the checks and balances system of our government.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  73. Michael in VA

    "July 29th, 2009 11:21 am ET

    I grow increasingly tired of people excusing or defending marijuana use I continue to see dozens of kids each month who are ADDICTED to it. Marijuana is loaded with THC through cross-breeding, feminization, growing methods and additives. If you are one of the fortunate ones who is not prone to addiction, please do not compare your experience with others….visit treatment centers and get an up close look at the effects of marijuana before you make a claim that “theres one thing for shure its not marijuana thats killing people…” There are many forms of “death”…death of future jobs skills, future family skills, etc…"

    there is zero proof that marijuana is physically adictive. Sure, if you're a pothead, and smoke a LOT, you are probably not as productive as some others. Then again, there are a lot of non pot smoker who are not too productive. Look it up in government studies, etc, there have been ZERO deaths related to pot, EVER. Compare that decades of data to one week of alcohol or tobacco. Don't pretend to tell me, or anyone else who has gone through DARE that pot is worse than alcohol, tobacco – it is simply not true, and kids today are smart enough to know when authorities lie – and if they catch authorities lying about pot, they will ignore the information about meth, cocaine, heroin, etc.. Let's focus our efforts on education, and lets be honest about what actually happens here in the US. It's human nature to experiment with drugs, some more so than others. What right is it of the alcohol industry to push their drug with obvious related deaths, over one that has zero related deaths?

    July 29, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  74. brett

    "...more people have died from overdoses than have died from gunshot wounds in this country. And frankly, this is something that in many ways can be prevented." Wow! So the obvious solution is to put more guns on the street! Good luck on this war on drugs!

    July 29, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  75. terri

    If we feel strongly about prescription drug abuse, the LAST thing we want to do is go to a government run health care plan where patients have no choice but to become addicts while waiting their turn to be referred to a specialist and then to a surgeon. This can take months, even years in other countries where this type plan is what citizens are "stuck" with. Nationalized/Rationalized health care will ADD to the addiction problem. Let's not go there.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  76. John

    If it saves only one child from potential drug abuse isn't it worth leaving thousands in pain? This is a crisis! We must do something now! It's time to launch another phase of the drug war to insure that doctors are so frightened that not one single pill will ever be misused. It's time for cancer patients and others with excrutiating pain to gut up and take one for the team.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  77. howard

    Just another sobering call to legalize less harmful recreational drugs......like marijuana

    July 29, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  78. Skippy Wasserman

    Propofol? For sleep? How horrible is your life when you're taking an anesthetic to get to sleep at night?

    July 29, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  79. Will

    Good to know that any idiot can lie to their doctor and get prescription pills that can kill them or someone else, but if I wanna smoke a joint and relax I can get taken to jail and the rest of my future can be ruined by a minor drug charge.

    Thank you, America!

    July 29, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  80. michele

    Thank you, Rob R! I know many people who are addicted to marijuana well into middle age. they are unable to keep jobs, commit to relationships, and often use it to mask alcoholism. The prospect of legal marijuana is terrifying. It's not just that they use it every day,it's that every day is all about marijuana!!

    July 29, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  81. Nan Will

    Right now we have a system which allows unethical practitioners to over prescribe and yet prevents others from being able to treat anxiety, pain, and insomnia adequately.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  82. Rick

    The drug czar is not going to shut down the pharmaceutical companies because there is to much money there...remember money talks and BS walks!
    All of congress has bilions tied up in drug stock as well. How do you think the companies got where there at?
    As far as the good MJ Doc, while maybe not legal MJ (again money talks) paid him to take care of him. MJ dug his own hole I'm sorry to say. If you want to blame...there is where it belongs. Quit trying to blame everyone except where it belongs.
    Bottom line: you are not going to stop drugs...legal or illegal. Quit wasting your time and my money. Does LEGALIZE strike a bell! But if you do insist to place blame or stop drugs...shut the pharmaceutical companies down first! Yeah right Mr. Drug CZAR! ( quit wasting our money).

    July 29, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  83. john stewart

    its pretty clear that our govt has absolutely zero interest in anything that will stem the profits of the pharmaceutical companies that 'contribute' billions of $ to the govt in order to maintain the status quo. Unfortunately, we have a pill for everything...headache – tylenol, upset stomach – pepso bismol...and the list goes on and on. If we start educating people about the true dangers of using pills to solve all of their problems then we will see a massive reduction in use. That of course would lead to a big reduction in profit for the pharma's. And lets throw marijuana into the mix – since its near impossible to patent and profit on the scale currently enjoyed by prescription drug makers and can also alleviate or reduce the need for prescription drug use (see all the medical studies) – we arrest any and all that have any involvement with the natural plant that has never killed anyone. Of course there are other industries with a vested interest in keeping Marijuana illegal – textile manufactures would have to compete with a cheap and easy to grow crop that can (and historically has been) be used to create everything from nutritional supplements to t-shirts. Wake up people, the drug problem is here because we are too stupid to get together and push for the sorely needed policy and procedure adjustments to drug enforcement and prohibition – treatment not incarceration, education not enforcement. Why? because we let big money brainwash us into believing we are approaching the issue in the appropriate way.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  84. Aaron Mendelsohn

    Drug czar is what the name says. A czar. A fascist.

    Stop meddling in peoples lives. Give out the information but don't clamp down on people, it only makes things worse.

    It's the very fact that drugs are taboo that makes it so accepted by counter-culture and teenagers. Take if off the streets, put drugs in the store so we can tax it. The government is not our mother.

    Karlikowske is a fascist like most of the elitist politicians who are herding us. Where's democracy and freedom? We live in a feudal society.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  85. Rob R

    I grow increasingly tired of people excusing or defending marijuana use I continue to see dozens of kids each month who are ADDICTED to it. Marijuana is loaded with THC through cross-breeding, feminization, growing methods and additives. If you are one of the fortunate ones who is not prone to addiction, please do not compare your experience with others....visit treatment centers and get an up close look at the effects of marijuana before you make a claim that "theres one thing for shure its not marijuana thats killing people..." There are many forms of "death"...death of future jobs skills, future family skills, etc...

    July 29, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  86. Robert M

    I am from Seattle and went though the mental hea,th/drug court. I have been clean before for 14 years and currently have 1 year. My addiction disease is compounded with mental health issues. Thankfully I believe my using and mental ealth problems are in the past. Treatment is only a short term solution. It isn't a magic pill(no pun intended). To be recovered from the disease of addiction is a lifelong process that 12 step programs provide and are all self supporting. Thankfully I have survived my addiction and have recovered. Still doctors prescripe pills, pills, pills. Not just for pain but for everything. It is big business and is a way of life. Drug companies are the legal drug cartels. Ads abound for patients to go to their doctors to get the latest and greatest. Do a lot of these drugs really help or is it the faith of the patient.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  87. Eric

    He's not an MD but says "Marijuana has No Medical value. Since when did Law enforcement people become medical professionals?

    July 29, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  88. michele

    My 52 year old brother died last year of heart damage due to many years of cocaine abuse, and the obesity that resulted when he stopped cocaine and turned to alcohol. The effects of street drugs or prescription drugs are long-term. The 'overdose' may happen years later. The familes go through absolute hell, both with dealing with personality changes that occur with addiction and resultant financial or psychological abuse, and the ultimate loss of the addict is devastating. There is so much anger and guilt because of a perceived failure to help, no matter how many times the addict went into, or received, treatment. At what a wasted life-the simple pleasures of life they can no longer take part in.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  89. David Somers

    First of all, I Believe our "Drug Czar" should be a Dr. and not a retired cop, because as he stated, he doesn't know the effects of many of these drugs so how is he supposed to make an informed decision for the rest of us to follow? And how can people be so blind to see the damage these so called legal drugs can do and how something like marijuana can put me in jail for potentially years. I pray this problem is addressed properly.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  90. Joe

    Hey Mike- what pharmacy do you use?

    July 29, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  91. Brian

    Anddd the only reason alcohol and tobacco and all these drugs are legal is because they are all backed by HUGE corporations with BIG money. Who do you think funds presidents campaigns? Hmmmm maybe the multi BILLION dollar tobacco industry. What president will ban cigarettes after recieving millions in campain money from these guys. I am an American citizan and right now I am not to proud to say so. America is a joke that is centered around money.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  92. Brian

    In order to overdose on marijuana, you would need to smoke 1500lbs within a 15 minute time frame. This is impossible....meaning it's impossible to overdose on marijuana. This country needs to wake up make it legal and start taxing it. That right there would take us out of this recession. It is the republican conservatives who are holding this country back.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  93. john doe

    not in 10,000 years of recorded history has anyone died from smoking cannabis. alcohol, cigarettes and pills kill Americans every single day. as long as the drug companies are making money then that is okay right? wake up America – why not legalize pot and make all the other poisons illegal, at least a lot less people would be dying.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  94. john

    Regulate drugs, educate people on the adverse effects and proper taking of drugs and let adults decide what they want to put in their bodies. The state has no right to regulate what people injest, they have an obligation to inform, not enforce.

    Enforcement has caused more harm to drug addicts and society in general than the drugs themselves ever could.

    It's obvious there is a demand for drug use, always has been and always will be. Time we accepted the realities of the human condition.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  95. william ridley

    One question: If we already had the type of on-line medical recordkeeping (confidential of course) that is currently being proposed, would that, in itself, have prevented the so-called "doctor shopping" in Michael Jackson's tragic case?

    July 29, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  96. Executor

    A national database on the web, in real time, would go a long way to stopping Doctor shopping. Pharmacists would have instant access to everyone's drug history. With the technology we have today, there is no reason why we can't implement something like this.

    Additionally, IDs should be required for all controlled substances (At Doc offices and pharmacies) so that patients can't use alias and / or pay "cash" for these meds. It's amazing to me that one can get CII narcotics like Oxycontin and Fentanyl, without any type of identification program. It's time for the pharmaceutical industry to catch up to modern times and implement better controls.

    IMHO, these two programs would put a serious dent into prescription drug abuse.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  97. jon

    D.A.R.E. fed me a load of crap when I was in school. Yeah I'm really gonna beleive anything the drug czar says. Pot is supposed to fry your brain, make you go crazy, and get very violent. I know thats a lie and I'm not going to listen to anymore b.s. Publics tired of this stupidity. Too late for this now that 90 percent of American's think that pot should be legal. czar is a good name.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  98. M Walston, PharmD

    As a practicing pharmacist, I can tell you that the distribution of these drugs may be from the pharmacies, however, the over-prescription and misprescribing of the medications begins at the doctor's office.
    Many anesthesiologists are leaving hospital practice today to set up so called "pain management" clinics which deal exclusively in controlled substance prescribing. Patients who visit these clinics are prescribed irresponsible amounts of OxyContin, Roxicodone, Lortab, Morphine, Methadone, Xanax, Valium, and the like. Patients are required to pay cash at the offices as insurance doesn't cover these "treatments" in most cases.
    It's not unusual to see patients come into the pharmacies and drop $500-$1500 cash on the prescriptions they have been written at these "pain management clinics." Where does this money come from when most of the patients are living on disability?
    Prescription drug abuse is definitely at epidemic proportions in this country. Doctor shopping and pharmacy shopping are the way that people get away with getting multiple prescriptions in a month. There is no way to track this without having a national drug database much like the national fingerprinting and DNA databases where prescriptions can be entered where they can be checked and not duplicated on the same patients.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  99. michael armstrong sr.

    Theres one thing for shure its not marijuana thats killing people its prescription and meth and cocane the distribution of these drugs start at the pharmacys so thats where law inforcement should start to end it..

    July 29, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  100. Rebecca Dalmeida, M.D.

    I am an anesthesiologist who uses profofol daily on patients who post operatively tell me that after propofol they feel very rested and "great". This drug has a euphoric effect which is probably why Jackson and ohers abuse this drug.

    July 29, 2009 at 8:31 am |
1 2