DEALogo DRCNet Response to the
Drug Enforcement Administration
Briefing Book

Diversion Control

DEA Statement Response
Of all the major drugs of abuse, only marijuana is available as a natural, harvested product. All of the others whether illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, or legitimately produced pharmaceuticals, must be produced or manufactured. Many problems associated with drug abuse are the result of legitimately-manufactured controlled substances being diverted from their lawful purpose into the illicit drug traffic. The fact that the DEA cannot shut off the production of illegal drugs within US borders ought to be a signal to them that they won't be able to do it in foreign countries, either.
DEA's Office of Diversion Control is responsible for two distinct problems: the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals and the diversion of controlled chemicals. Their efforts in the area of pharmaceuticals have led to a pattern of abuses that is literally killing pain patients.  See The American Society for Action on Pain.

Their efforts in the area of controlled chemicals is simply laughable.  Some of the chemicals are the same cold tablets found in your local supermarket.  The DEA is now proposing that there be extensive regulations on cold pills, with records kept of anyone who they think buys too many.

Diversion of Controlled Pharmaceuticals  
Many of the narcotics, depressants and stimulants manufactured for legitimate medical use are subject to abuse, and have therefore been brought under legal control. The goal of controls is to ensure that these "controlled substances" are readily available for medical use, while preventing their distribution for illicit sale and abuse. The DEA's policies are cruel, represssive, and they are killing people.   Doctors are often afraid to prescribe pain medications when they are legitimately needed, and chronic pain patients must often go through years of legal and medical fights to obtain adequate medication.  See The American Society for Action on Pain. 

For a good history of how we got into this particular mess, see the first several chapters of The Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs, and Historical References, particularly Linder V. US (1925). 

In the case of Linder V. US , the Supreme Court ruled that the narcotics agents had no business interfering in the medical prescription of narcotics at all, even if that prescription was solely for the purpose of maintaining an addict on their drug of choice  It was an unanimous decision.   The Federal Burea of Narcotics, in one of the most underhanded actions in the history of American law enforcement, brought indictments against 15,000 doctors for prescribing narcotics -- despite the fact that they had just lost 9-0 in the Supreme Court.  They never brought any of the cases to court, but the indictments alone were enough to intimidate the doctors into ending their prescription of narcotics for most purposes.. 

Under federal law, all businesses which manufacture or distribute controlled drugs, all health professionals entitled to dispense, administer or prescribe them, and all pharmacies entitled to fill prescriptions must register with the DEA. Registrants must comply with a series of regulatory requirements relating to drug security, records accountability, and adherence to standards. The DEA has a method of enforcement which is designed to discourage doctors from using these medications.
The DEA is obligated under international treaties to monitor the movement of licit controlled substances across U.S. borders, and for issuing import and export permits for that movement. The DEA also devises ways to deal with problems of international drug diversion.  
Diversion cases involve, but are not limited to, physicians who sell prescriptions to drug dealers or abusers; pharmacists who falsify records and subsequently sell the drugs; employees who steal from inventory; executives who falsify orders to cover illicit sales; prescription forgers, and individuals who commit armed robbery of pharmacies and drug distributors. At present, the largest problem results from the criminal activity of physicians and pharmacy personnel. This is a deliberate campaign to intimidate doctors and pharmacists into making decisions which are not in the best interests of the patients.  These medicines are so valuable in medicine that they were once called G.O.M. - God's Own Medicine.  They literally save lives and they are much less dangerous than many of the drugs and treatments which doctors are forced to give in their place.

The DEA has no business running anyone's medical practice, or interfering in the legitimate treatment of any patient.  In the case of America's 34 million pain patients, the DEA's actions are literally killing people.

Diversion of Controlled Chemicals  
Most of the drugs in the illicit traffic are products of illicit processing or synthesis. Cocaine, for example, can only be extracted and converted to its preferred form by using a tremendous quantity of industrial chemicals. Heroin must be synthesized by using an acetylating agent after the morphine has been extracted from raw, harvested opium. Methamphetamine, PCP, LSD, MDMA and methaqualone are purely synthetic drugs manufactured from chemical precursors. The DEA fails to tell you that many of these precursor chemicals are extraordinarily common and useful chemicals -- which you quite literally see every day.   One good example is the precursors of methamphetamine and related drugs -- the common cold pill you see in your supermarket shelves. 
Until recently, there were virtually no legal impediments to obtaining the chemicals necessary to manufacture drugs of abuse, no records required to be maintained for inspection, and no penalties for negligence or willful diversion. Recently, in an effort to expand its power even further, the DEA recommended broad increases in their power to go after all sorts of other products. Congress bought it.  The DEA is now recommending that they keep records on everyone who buys cold tablets.  
The Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988 extended the concept of commodity control to those chemicals most often used for the manufacture and synthesis of drugs of abuse. With the support of the State Department, DEA pursued the same goal on the international level. The result was the incorporation of Article 12 into the U.N. Convention Against Illicit Drug Traffic of 1988 (the Vienna Convention). This provision establishes similar controls over a list of 22 critical chemicals commonly diverted for the production of the major drugs of abuse. In February 1991, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act was passed by Congress. The act classified 27 named steroids as Schedule III substances under the Controlled Substances Act which DEA administers. Not content to try to keep records on the people who buy cold tablets in the United States, the DEA wants to make sure that they know about everyone who gets a cold overseas, as well. 
The Office of Diversion consists of diversion investigators, special agents, chemists, pharmacologists, program analysts, and others. The office's activities include: program priorities and field management oversight; coordination of major investigations; drafting and promulgating of regulations; establishment of national drug production quotas; design and execution of diplomatic missions; U.S. obligations under drug control treaties; design and proposal of national legislation; advice and leadership on state legislation/regulation; legal control of drugs and chemicals not previously under federal control; control of imports and exports of drugs and chemicals; computerized monitoring and tracking the distribution of certain controlled drugs; providing distribution intelligence to the states; industry liaison; and program resource planning and allocation. It all sounds great, but it results in nothing significant.  We at DRCNet would prefer that our tax money be spent on more productive approaches to the drug problem.



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