Press Release  | 10/03/2003

Drug Policy Alliance Says Rush Limbaugh Should Not Face Criminal Prosecution For Alleged OxyContin Offenses

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Drug Misuse Should be Addressed in Doctor

The Drug Policy Alliance expressed support for Rush Limbaugh today, as the radio host confronts an investigation for allegedly buying thousands of tablets of OxyContin, a powerful painkiller, from an illegal drug selling ring in Florida.

"Whether you like or hate his politics isn't the point here," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "As long as no one else was harmed as a consequence of his drug use, Rush Limbaugh should not face incarceration or otherwise be punished for what he chose to put into his own body."

Limbaugh is not the first well-known Floridian to land in hot water over prescription drug abuse. Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter, Noelle, was arrested for trying to buy Xanax without a prescription in 2002. At the time, the Alliance called for respect and privacy for the Bush family, but also pointed out the sharp discrepancy in Florida's treatment of drug abuse among people with less political power and financial means. For the past ten years more inmates have been admitted to Florida state prisons for drug offenses than for any other offense.

"The sad cases of Noelle Bush - and now Rush Limbaugh - remind us that substance abuse problems do not discriminate," said Nadelmann. "Unfortunately, thanks to Jeb Bush, Florida's drug policies still do."

Despite repeated calls for reform, Governor Bush has cut drug treatment and drug court budgets in the state, and also staunchly opposed a possible ballot initiative which would have diverted nonviolent drug offenders away from prison.

"First and foremost, we hope Mr. Limbaugh's life isn't destroyed by bad drug laws," said Nadelmann. "But we also hope that the experience opens his eyes to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders behind bars in this country."

Hero or Big Fat Idiot, Rush Limbaugh Should Not Face Prison. By Matthew Briggs, Director of Publications, Drug Policy Alliance.

Tony Newman at (212) 613-8026

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