U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy’s pharmacy crackdown? Dueling press releases Friday morning
It was apparently an entirely new tactic representing an interesting change of pace from her usual war on medical marijuana dispensaries. United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy on Tuesday announced — or seemed to announce — enforcement actions against pharmacies in Southern California. The stores were targeted, Duffy said in a press release, because of “distribution of drugs for illegal purposes.”
According to the press release, which says it is from “Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Shiner” at (619) 302-5235, “immediate enforcement” will target pharmacies in the Coastal areas of La Jolla, Carmel Valley, and Pacific Beach; chosen for both the high rates of pharmaceutical drug abuse and high property values of targeted pharmacies. Affected pharmacies will have 45 days to shutdown in order to avoid harsher penalties.
“The Pharmaceutical shutdown initiative is aimed at curtailing drug abuse and its associated societal problems in the Southern District of California,” Duffy’s office seemed to announce Tuesday morning.
But another, conflicting release sent just an hour later from Press Secretary Steven T. Frederickson at (619) 306-2854, claims that “unknown individuals have forged documents claiming that this office has initiated a shut down pharmacies [sic]in the coastal areas of San Diego County.
“Many in the community have expressed outrage over the perceived imposition of our department in the rights of San Diego patients to receive their medication,” the second release reads, in what — if it’s real — must be one of the most richly ironic statements in history.
“The U.S. Attorney’s office would like to assure the public that these reports are completely fase,” the second release says. “The office of the U.S. Attorney fully intends to find these perpetrators and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This feeble attempt to defame her character is clearly an action committed by a group with nothing better to do that waste the time of the media, the people, and most importantly the office of the U.S. Attorney,” the second press release angrily declares.
“The claims of the false press release sent out hours earlier are completely outrageous,” the second release claims. “In no way does the office of the U.S. Attorney plan to forfeit the assets of pharmacies as it has done with illegal operations like commercial marijuana dispensaries.
“U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy is committed to upholding justice and keeping the peace, not haphazardly attacking honest businesses,” the second release says in another deep excursion into irony, given Duffy’s unrelenting attacks on safe access for medical marijuana patients.
“In regards to the pharmacies who have received cease and desist letters, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy assures them that these letters are completely illegitimate,” the second release says. “While it is well within the rights of the U.S. Attorney to shut down pharmacies for abuses of the system, they are not choosing to do so at this time.”
“In conclusion, the U.S. Attorney asks the public to disregard the events of these false allegations,” the second release pleaded. “People have no reason to worry about the administration of justice conducted by our office.
“The full extend or our power, tempered by our judgment, will be used to put a stop to these absurd allegations and defamation,” the second release, evidently quite impressed with itself, said.
Meanwhile, Here are The Claims Of The First Press Release
“Enforcement is proceeding against 20 pharmacies in San Diego County,” the original release read, “and will include actions such as:
• Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, sales consistent with state or local ordinances;
• Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where potentially illegal sales are taking place; and
• Criminal cases targeting commercial pharmaceutical activities.”
“These pharmacies are not only about providing medicine to the sick,” Duffy said, at least according to the original release. “They are part of a pervasive for-profit industry that facilitates the distribution of drugs for illegitimate use. Doctors are prescribing unneeded medication; kids are overdosing on aspirin; police are finding pill bottles at junior high schools.
“Addiction and abuse of these drugs are serious problems in our communities and parents have come to me with their concerns,” Duffy said. “These pharmacies have provided not just medication — prescription and otherwise — but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and often irreparable harm to our youth.”
The Southern District of California will be the first in the nation to confront the problems associated with drug abuse by targeting storefront pharmacies with asset forfeiture proceedings, according to Duffy’s office.
“The operation will also be a model of fiscal discipline as asset forfeiture may render enforcement efforts cost-neutral,” Duffy’s press release claimed. (If that’s really true, one starts to see the genesis of another massive cash grab by the Drug Warriors.)
And, you guessed it: If successful in San Diego, Duffy’s office will lobby for the implementation of this policy throughout the United States.
“Prosecutorial discretion means I decide how and when to enforce laws,” Duffy said haughtily. “Although this action is unprecedented, in my judgment it’s necessary to ensure we continue making progress in the war on drugs.
“Economic decline, climate threats, cybercrime, illegal immigration, and a general loss of faith in the political process have colored these drastic times,” she said. “Now is the time to get tough in a fiscally responsible way.”
Asset forfeiture is the seizure of property found to have been used for an illegal purpose. The tactic has already been used to nearly end safe access to medical marijuana in San Diego.
In 2011, the Southern District of California seized $29.7 million in property using asset forfeiture.
“Though initially only 20 pharmacies will be targeted for closure, the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California will continue to investigate facilities which illegally provide dangerous substances to our communities,” Duffy’s office announced.