Florida -- and Broward County in particular -- used to be America's illicit pain pill capital until Florida politicians actually got around to drafting laws that effectively stamped out the problem. That hasn't stopped the pill heads of the South from getting their fix, though. The problem has now just moved to Georgia.
Years ago, lax laws led to the opening of dozens of "pain management centers" across South Florida. Crooked doctors basically prescribed large quantities whatever proscription pill, including Oxycontin, to whomever wanted it. This meant people traveled from far and wide to get their fix, spurring a sort of pharmaceutical tourism.
Finally, in 2011, Florida got serious about the problem. Tougher laws were passed and several busts and crackdown followed.
It may have killed the industry in Florida, but, according to The Wall Street Journal, its just moved north to Georgia.
The Journal talked to Jeffrey Gonzalez. He used to own a used-car dealership in Florida, but that went belly up two summers ago. So, he packed up and moved to Georgia to open a pill mill. In Georgia, anyone, not just doctors, can own that type of facility.
He hired two doctors off of Craigslist, one of them a gynecologist, and set up shop. He even did his research and checked out the legality, asserting "We had a green light from every agency that we spoke to."
Gonzalez is part of a growing trend. Before 2010, Georgia had ten pain management facilities. Now it's home to more than 125.
Of course, dolling out pain pills to addicts and drug dealers under the guise of a legitimate medical practice isn't legal anywhere. Gonzalez's practice was busted in June, and he was lead out in handcuffs. (Though, he maintains he was targeted, in part, due to being from Florida, and claims that he only wanted to help out people with actual pain issues.)
The problem is that while Florida has made its laws tougher in recent years, several states still lack statutes and police resources that could prevent the spread of pill mills. Georgia may be the first to inherit the problem, but the Journal warns several other states could also soon face the scourge of pill mills.
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