Governor-elect Rick Scott made a controversial announcement this week that he will be dissolving the Office of Drug control at the first of the year. Having pledged to cut unnecessary spending, people are up in arms justifying the need for this office which played a role in getting the funding for the newest efforts at curbing the illegal prescription drug trade.
According to the Miami Herald, the Office of Drug Control reports directly to the Governor and is staffed by four full time employees. The office director states the state will only save $500,000 in cutting the office, though it seems this is only the salaries.
Scott states he will redelegate the duties currently handled by the office to the departments of Health and Law Enforcement.
Getting to the bottom of this move and weighing the necessity of this office is more complex than it appears. People fighting for its retention claim the office had a tremendous impact on funding for new prescription drug monitoring and one lawmaker states the office was crucial in getting that legislation passed in the first place.
With budgets in a squeeze and the failures of the drug war becoming all too apparent across the country, it’s no wonder Scott decided to trim this office who seems to be handling things that law enforcement and health agencies are perfectly capable of handling.
The illegal prescription drug trade is a massive problem and one that definitely deserves ample attention. No one is arguing otherwise. However, having a separate office that seems to duplicate efforts within other departments seems to be an unnecessary addition to the list of state expenses.
One physician who works on a task force to get the new monitoring program implemented states the office is a necessity—that it incorporates the health and legal issues embedded in the prescription drug trade. She states “It’s a complex issue and need an integrated, coordinated solution.”
But, if there is a task force in place, wouldn’t that serve as part of the “integrated, coordinated solution”? With representatives from the health field (like the doctor quoted) and law enforcement agencies at all levels, a task force could provide the cooperative effort needed to join forces of the Health and Law Enforcement departments as Scott suggests.
It isn’t exactly clear what will be missed when the Office of Drug Control is gone, aside from the money saved. What is clear is that no matter where a governor attempts to cut funding, he will be met with resistance.
Facing drug charges can be scary. Criminal penalties are often way out of line with the offense you are accused of—potentially sending you to prison for years for a nonviolent offense. With the attitude held by many, the War on Drugs is alive and well in Florida courtrooms.
If you are facing drug charges, contact our offices today for a free consultation on your case.