Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marchman Act Blog: Pain clinic law: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signs a law cracking down on pain clinics; some say it has flaws

Gov. Charlie Crist signed a sweeping law Friday giving Florida regulators new tools to shut down or rein in hundreds of rogue pain clinics. But even supporters are not sure how well it will work.
Regulators, doctors and police said they have high hopes the law will fuel a strong crackdown, even though it may not completely bar clinics from selling large quantities of narcotic pills and may not completely ban felons from running them.
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Anonymous said...

already lost one of my brothers to drugs and now , with my family am trying my last attempt at intervention through the March man act/ Jennifer Act.
After speaking with the mother of Jennifer Last evening I realized as did she, that help is hard to get when the addict has no insurance. My family has drained our resources over the past 20 years trying to help my other brother that died and now this brother.
I ask that you read the story below and for me and others that have someone in their family that is being held in the grips of Satan's Drug web, that you go to the Government Rep e-mail listed below and tell him you are for the Jennifer Act.

Thank You so much.
Love, Mary Walker



Marchman Act Attorneys said...

I am sorry to hear about your past suffering and current situation. Please call us and ask for me personally - Raymond Ferrero, Esq. - I am sure I can help you as my firm has helped thousands of families struggling with a drug addicted loved one. Also, if money is an issue, we can direct you to county funded facilities and that are in your area.
As to the Jennifer Act, unfortunately, I do not agree with what Jennifer’s mother is doing. Although I do understand Ms. Gonzales has faced a terrible loss, and I do encourage anyone who has faced such a loss to advocate for change (especially against prescription drug abuse and diversion), The Jennifer Act will not do this. And, most importantly, I can say with 100% certainty that The Marchman Act works just the way it is, right now. What failed Jennifer was not the law. This is a law I have I have personally used on behalf of families for over a decade to save lives and get families help – it works.
Sadly, Jennifer’s mother‘s fight is misguided as it is fighting the actual law itself, when she really means to address external state issues. I will go over each of her positions below, and try to explain where she should direct her passion for change.
I also feel it is essential that people just like yourself, who speak with Jennifer’s mother, for you to know that my law partner personally reached out to Jennifer's mother thru her Blog trying to explain to her what I will explain below, and even asked her to join forces with us in Tallahassee to make real change. She moderated our post and she rejected our offer - as she only wanted to address the Jennifer Act. She was also invited, but refused to be a part of the Florida Marchman Act Workgroup that was put together by the State of Florida this past year to seek ways to improve the law – Jennifer’s mother wanted nothing to do with that group either – she only wanted to pursue the Jennifer Act. I sit on the Statewide Drug Policy Committee under Governor Crist. I was joined by advocates, educators, caregivers and judiciary from across the State of Florida to review the current Marchman Act to see if it could be improved. Over the last year, myself and my law partner, as well as heads of the Department of Children and Families, the Office of Drug Control, FAADA, law enforcement and some of the highest level Judges in the State of Florida from the mental health and appellate courts did meet and we re-wrote the law. We even looked at the issues raised by Ms. Gonzales in her absence. Mainly Jennifer’s mother’s problems were with funding and issues she had with county government and not the Marchman Act.
I can truly understand that Jennifer’s mother wants to memorialize her daughter; I just hope that doing so does not interfere with a law that is already effective and has helped thousands of people throughout the State of Florida.

See Part 2 below

Marchman Act Attorneys said...

Here is what she wants changed via The Jennifer Act:
---Ms. Gonzalez wrote---
Respectfully, the following revisions I bring before the legislature: 1) There are no secure beds in Pinellas County, of which The Marchman Act requires. Therefore, I petition the state of Florida and ask for secured beds and facilities for the addicted under the new amendment: The Jennifer Act. *note: There are very few Florida state funded facilities currently available for the addicted for detox. Currently, the addicted can walk out of a treatment facility.
My Response to this:
(1) This part of the Jennifer Act talks about a lack of county detox and treatment facilities in her area. That has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the Marchman Act law. According, she should be advocating and writing her state and federal representatives to provide more money for treatment in Pinellas County or the state of Florida. The lack of funding for health and human services - including addiction and mental illness - is a problem that cuts across the Nation; not just Pinellas county. Also, county facilities that provide low cost care do exist in Pinellas County – they may be stretched thin because of funding, but they exist and the Marchman Act plays no part in this.
(2) Yes, Jennifer’s mother is correct. The Marchman Act does require that a person be ordered to a secure facility. However, Jennifer’s mother mistakes the word "secure" to mean “locked”. The Marchman Act was a law created to keep people out jail or locked up for their drug addiction. Addicts are not criminals and this is a law that was written so addicts would not be treated as criminals. Also, no Treatment providers will ever lock up their patients against their will – Marchman Act or not.
He is also right when she says that an addict may be ordered into treatment and walk out of the facility – it’s true! However, she fails to mention that the current Marchman Act provides the petitioning family with a remedy, if the addict does walk out. The reality: addicts walk out of treatment against medical advice all the time. Why? Because they don’t want to get help. However, under the Marchman Act, if a person is ordered to treatment and walks out, the Marchman Act allows for that person to be picked up and returned to the facility under a Civil Contempt Order - A Rule to Show Cause. It either go to treatment or go to jail – but, it is the responsibility of the person filing the Marchman Act to make sure that this happens - not the court, or, anyone else. My office files such motions for families every day. And, it works – they go back because they don’t want to go to jail – the Marchman Act works!
See Part 2 below

Marchman Act Attorneys said...

Part 3
---Ms. Gonzalez wrote---
2) The enforcement of The Marchman Act changes from county to county within the state of Florida. Therefore, I ask for the new law The Jennifer Act. The purpose is to ensure revision of the law firmly in place in all counties in which it is filed in the state of Florida.
My response: The Marchman Act is the same law from one area of the State to any other. However, the Clerk’s office and the judges may handle the cases differently. Why: because while one county may hear hundreds of Marchman Act cases a week, some counties have never heard such a case because nobody files them in their area. Jennifer’s mom is right however. There should be State-wide training for clerks and judges on the Marchman Act, but that is again administration and not the law. My law firm actually suggested that there should be a Marchman Act training across the State of Florida. They do it for the Baker act, so why not the Marchman Act – but, again the law itself is fine.
---Ms. Gonzalez wrote---
3) The fee for filing a Marchman Act petition at the courthouse is very costly: $300.00. Therefore, I ask for the new law, The Jennifer Act, and that this filing fee be changed and re-adjusted at an affordable rate of the cost of processing the paper work only. Currently the cost varies from county to county, so The Jennifer Act would make the fee the same for every county in Florida.
My response: A law cannot tell the Clerk of the Court, what they may charge as a filing fee. An administrative order can, but not a law. I only know of one county that has such an outrageous fee for a Marchman Act and I agree with Jennifer’s mother (although again it is more of an administrative suggestion) NO FIILING FEES FOR MARCHMAN ACT CASES – EVER! Our workgroup made this suggestion during our public debates.
---Ms. Gonzalez wrote---
4) Currently, the Marchman Act “holds” the addicted person for 72 hours for observation and a professional assessment. Therefore, I ask for the length of time extended for proper medical detoxing, and a board certified professional (C.A.P.) evaluation of the addicted person. The length of detox varies based the substance and the individual, but in either case 72 hours is an insufficient amount of time. Note: intake specialist must be board certified.
My Response: Under the Marchman Act a person May be held up to five days for detox and assessment (with the option of more time if required); and, ordered for treatment for 60 days – with a possible 90 day extension. She is simply misread the law – she is talking about a 72hr protective hold (which, under the Marchman Act can be longer anyway as long as a treatment petition is filed properly).

Marchman Act Attorneys said...

Part 4
---Ms. Gonzalez wrote---
5) Evaluation and assessment of the patient/ the addicted is critical. Therefore, I ask for the new law, The Jennifer Act, to supervise and oversee county by county all facilities by The Office of Drug Control, The Capitol, Tallahassee, Florida. The Jennifer Act would provide a watchdog team. This would hold the patient/addicted until a thorough and proper assessment and evaluation and stabilization of the patient/addicted has been approved by an elected board on staff at The Office of Drug Control. This is a three-fold plan. a) It brings accountability to the state funded, state run facility b) It involves another certified addiction professional, a second evaluation and opinion c) It ensures a treatment plan that does not release the addicted immediately. This extra time required initially, will provide a time of intense residential drug treatment.
My Response: Again, this has nothing to do with the Marchman Act law. In fact, the Marchman Act requires all assessments must be done by a licensed provider. All licensed providers are already authorized and accredited by the State of Florida and National licensing boards. To create an Office of Drug Control Office to oversee every licensed provider would create nothing but another huge bureaucracy and would actually divert money away from the people we want to treat.

---Ms. Gonzalez wrote---
6) Incarceration is not drug treatment. Incarcerating the addicted is perpetuating a revolving door of repeating the insanity of addiction. It brings nothing of purpose to an individual and the result is of no lasting value for mankind. I believe in investing in people, regardless of race, creed or gender which can positively alter and change addiction behaviors and habits. It costs thousands of dollars per year to incarcerate the addicted. Therefore, I ask for the new law, The Jennifer Act, for the purpose of a network of Doctors and Certified Addiction Professionals -staffed by the Dept. of Corrections to evaluate inmates, including drug testing, mental, physical and emotional assessment due to their addiction. After positive assessment has been made of an addict, I ask on behalf of the addicted, they be given 2 alternatives/choices for rehabilitation and drug treatment vs. incarceration: a) Faith based drug treatment b) Secular drug treatment
My Response: First, re-read #2. She wants them locked up in facilities, but not jails? These are in conflict. However, regardless, the above opinion she has is right. However, incarceration vs. treatment is a social change argument and social policy argument. It is not an argument against the Marchman Act.
I wish her the best in coming to grips with the death of her daughter. She is not alone. We lose 7 Floridians a day to prescription drug overdose.