Senate Bill needs to be killed

Posted: Monday, March 03, 2008

Senate Bill 196 cleared the Senate by a huge majority. Our lawmakers are clearly intent of extending Big Brother's reach into the private lives of Alaskans. The bill creates a central government drug database of all who use prescription medications.

Consider what the bill can and cannot do:

1) The law cannot prevent the theft of controlled substances. Indeed, it may reveal to hacker thieves the whereabouts of prescription drugs in private homes.

2) The law cannot prevent the keeping of medications beyond their prescribed period. Indeed, private citizens would become felons for not disposing of all prescription drugs when their purpose has ended.

3) The law clearly violates the Constitutional protections of privacy and compromises physician-patient confidentiality. Would any of us want the central government to know all the drugs we are taking and the reasons why we take them?

4) The law will become the pathway toward denying the possession of firearms here as a similar law has in Illinois, where their central government drug database is used to deny the sale of firearms to individuals. Many people take prescription drugs for innocuous reasons, such as insomnia and depression. But anti-depressants and psychotropics are not clear indicators of mental disease or anti-social behavior. Indeed, to obtain a firearm, the central government will eventually require a psychiatric examination based on the database "flags" to determine why a person has been prescribed such drugs.

5) The law completely overlooks alcohol, the most widely abused drug of all. At best, alcohol will not be added to the database because of the widespread abuse of it by our lawmakers. At the worst, the central government's reach will include everyone purchasing liquor or cough medicine.

6) The law obfuscates the purpose of search warrants and subpoenas to protect privacy unless and until a crime has been shown to have occurred and subsequent investigation and evidence is necessary under law. Indeed, the central government prescription drug database will be used to predict that a person will commit a crime and will be used to deny that person freedom, rights and liberty before any crime actually takes place. In short, the presumption of innocence will cease and all drug users will be presumed potentially guilty.

7) The law completely overlooks the disposition of drugs in a home after a individual's death. The children of a parent who dies at home will automatically become felons unless they can prove they properly disposed of medications. Who will verify that those drugs were legally disposed of? Will central government goons search my home looking for the drugs that eased my cancer-ridden father's pain before his death?

At first, I thought Senate Bill 196 was a hoax. Certainly no rational Alaskan would allow his/her privacy to be so violated. To be sure, our Senate cannot be trusted with the Constitution. The Judiciary or the governor must kill this effort to compromise us all.

Norman Olson


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