DEA wants to conduct warrantless searches
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency wants the ability to conduct warrantless searches on State run Prescription Medication Database.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that in 2013 alone 65 million people over the age of 11 have used prescription medication for non-medical reasons. A number that has continued to grow rather than decline.
That added up to more people using prescription meds than who were using cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined.
The pharmaceutical companies as you can imagine are making money hand over fist as the “need” for prescription medication grows, which in and of itself is pretty concerning.
Naturally, the DEA has reason for concern when they hear about doctors or patients who are fraudulently prescribing or obtaining prescription medications that are classified as an opioid.
49 States here in the USA have legislation authorizing the creation and operation of a PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program).
It’s worth a mention that, 49 States here in the US also have a fully operational PDMP which collects and reports data about what prescription drugs you might be taking. That information is “only” used by “authorized” individuals.
UTAH, which participates in the program passed a law last year that requires investigators obtain a warrant in order to search the database.
The DEA has requested from the State of Utah to have the ability to be able to conduct warrantless searches of its prescription drug database while the ACLU is trying to butt in and tell the DEA that, that would be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The DEA lawyers have argued that “Fourth Amendment rights are personal and may not be asserted vicariously.”
The DEA thinks that the ACLU should butt out of it’s business and and do it as of yesterday. They contend that the ACLU has no business trying to get itself involved with this request.
The reason the DEA wants to search it makes perfect sense because they only want to search the database for a specific case or… so they say.
The case involves a doctor and potentially patients who may or may not have been involved in some prescription drug scheme where the provider might be prescribing drugs to folks who have some type of involvement with a criminal organization overseas.
Suffice it to say, many law enforcement agencies argue that these databases are helpful when trying to combat prescription drug fraud and that is true. If you can’t track the source then you have no case and must let the offender (s) go without prosecution.
This turns out to be terrible news for a family who may have lost a loved one who somehow obtained prescription meds fraudulently and died as a result or worse, ended up with lifelong issues that resulted in the taking of prescription medications that were fraudulently obtained.
In Utah for instance, because of the law that was passed last year, use of the database has plummeted because of the length of time it takes investigators to obtain a warrant.
Sleeping on the other side of the bed, hogging all of the covers is the ACLU who is arguing that police use of the data base brings up some serious issues.
Equality Utah, is a gay rights organization who feels that warrantless database searches can violate the privacy of transgender people using hormone replacement therapy drugs because, the DEA would have access to that information if they were allowed to conduct a warrantless search of the database.
A firefighters union in Utah is also concerned with warrantless searches of the database because a couple of years ago, 2 firefighters were accused of and charged with prescription drug fraud after a wide-ranging search of the database.
Those charges were dropped because whoever performed the search made a mistake and that is the very reason that Utah now requires a warrant before the database can be searched.
Around 20 or so other states also require investigators obtain a warrant prior to being allowed to access the PDMP.
At any rate, the ACLU happens to represent both of these groups.
Here in the US people have a thing about law enforcement and our Government having the ability to look at our stuff whenever they want for whatever reason they want.
But the reality is that most agencies if not all agencies do have a protocol that investigators and officers must go through prior to searching a database like the PDMP.
It’s not like most imagine, cop sits at his desk bored and says “what the hell, I’m bored, I think I’ll search the PDMP today and look for something so I can bust someone.”
In the case of the firefighters from Utah who were wrongfully accused of prescription drug fraud, someone dropped the ball but it wasn’t because investigators on a whim searched these guys out. Someone at some point provided them with intel that warranted the search in the first place.
Now did they do a stellar job of investigating? Hands down, I am going to go with a no on that. The firefighters have a right to sue over that.
Sometimes in rare cases warrantless searches are more of a benefit to society than we know or think. They are at times a necessary evil which has nothing to do with right or wrong whichever side of the bed you are on.
As far as law enforcement having access the transgender communities records so they can see who is prescribed hormone replacement therapy?
I am going to go out on a limb here, I don’t believe that the law enforcement community really wants that information, would bother to look for it or even care about it unless…someone were suspected of something having to do with prescribing and or reselling hormone replacement therapy drugs. Which believe or not is pretty lucrative.
We’ll have to wait and see how the case turns out…
In the meantime…
How many of you are going to check and see if your state allows for warrantless searches of the PDMP?
Cristal M Clark
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