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Some Montanans Find the “War on Drugs” is Painful

February 26, 2008

Missoula, MT – The nation's "war on drugs" is painful, especially for those with chronic pain. Montana doctors and civil liberties experts are meeting this week to talk about how the federal policy is keeping many health professionals from prescribing proven pain medications.

Tom Daubert in Helena has worked on patients' rights issues. He says most people think the Drug Enforcement Agency just goes after illegal drug dealers, but he says the D.E.A. spends a lot of resources targeting doctors who prescribe pain medicine.

"They're unilaterally deciding, without even knowing the specifics of the case, that a particular doctor is prescribing too many pain pills."

Daubert adds that the other "painful" aspect is the incredible amount of money that is spent on the "war on drugs," and the only result is that more people are in prison. He says money could be better spent in treating drug addiction as a medical issue.

"We waste, literally, billions of dollars on the drug war, and the percentage of Americans who have an actual problem with drugs hasn't changed at all."

The D.E.A. says investigating doctors is necessary because of the abuse of prescription drugs. A workshop about how the "drug war" affects doctors and patients is part of the A.C.L.U. of Montana annual meeting this weekend.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MT