FDA Cracking Down on Unprescribed Hydrocodone
The FDA is urging tighter restrictions on Hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller that is found in prescribed drugs like Vicodin, Lortab and Norco. The FDA wants to reclassify Hydrocodone as a more restrictive drug like oxycodone and morphine. By reclassifying them, the government is hoping they will be harder to obtain legally and illegally. Doctors would no longer be able to call in a prescription to the pharmacy. Instead, the consumer must go to the pharmacy with a prescription in writing.
The DEA proposed the change to the FDA because of the increasing prescription abuse issues in the United States. Possession of Hydrocodone in Florida without a valid prescription is a serious offense. If you possess less than four grams of Hydrocodone you can face a third degree felony and be looking at up to five years of probation or prison along with a two year driver’s license suspension if you are convicted. If you are caught or arrested in possession of more than four grams you can be charged with Trafficking in Hydrocodone and face a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison.
That is mandatory unless the State decides to waive the sentence. If you are caught or arrested with 14 grams but less than 28 grams you can face a minimum mandatory sentence of fifteen years in prison unless the State agrees to come off the sentence. It is even worse if you are arrested with over 28 grams of hydrocodone as you can face a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Most people arrested for possession or trafficking of hydrocodone are not dealer but addicts who need treatment. It does not make sense for Florida to criminally punish people who have substance abuse issues. Unfortunately, the Florida legislature does not agree and has draconian drug laws with mandatory prison sentences even for the college kid, housewife or businessman who gets arrested for possession. In many cases, a criminal defense lawyer can raise defenses to the charge including entrapment, fourth amendment search and seizure issues, and in some cases there will be insufficient evidence to convict.
People who abuse drugs do not deserve to go to jail or prison and prosecutors must be made aware that the lives of other people are negatively impacted when a family member goes to jail. Families, employees, friends and others suffer when prosecutors impose the harshest of laws on some of the most fragile of people. While the FDA is right in trying to curb prescription abuse, we also need a change in the way we criminalize and punish those who are arrested for possession of hydrocodone. We cannot continue to send good people to jail or prison because they have become addicted to prescription drugs.