We are in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history. It is a scourge that over the last two decades has claimed more than 200,000 lives. It is a plague that kills more than 140 Americans every day. For purposes of comparison, 2,980 people died on 9-11. So, every 22 days more Americans die from opioid overdoses than died in the 9-11 attacks.
So, what is Greg Walden doing to stop this unmitigated disaster? Well, On October 19th he released a press release that said, in part:
Continuing his efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Oregon, Rep. Greg Walden … today announced collection sites in Oregon for the disposal of excess opioid and prescription medications.
Wow! 140 people are dying every day and he sets up collection sites in Oregon for the disposal of excess opioid and prescription medications, …. that is pathetic! This is the same Greg Walden who in March of this year voted to strip over 64,000 people of health care, in his own district, healthcare that pays for opioid abuse treatment. It is also the same Greg Walden who is, in 2017, the #1 recipient in the House, of campaign funds from the Pharmaceutical industry ($138,500 so far in 2017 and $906,095 over his career).
In the October 15th edition of 60 Minutes an ex-DEA agent, who ran the DEA’s division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry, said while drug distributors pumped opioids into U.S. communities knowing that people were dying pharmaceutical industry lobbyists and Congress derailed the DEA’s efforts to stop it. In that 60 Minutes segment the ex-DEA agent also talked about how, in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history, the DEA’s ability to keep addictive opioids off U.S. streets was derailed by Congress. He further said that if he was going to write a book about how to harm the United States with pharmaceuticals, the only thing he could think of that would immediately harm us would be to take the authority away from the investigative agency that is trying to enforce the Controlled Substances Act and the regulations implemented under the act. And that’s exactly what Congress, at the urging of the pharmaceutical industry, did. Per the ex-agent, the bill passed by Congress makes the DEA’s job in going after the wholesale distributors nearly impossible.
There are people who “Talk the talk” and there are people who actually “Walk the walk”. Greg Walden definitely does not walk the walk. If Greg Walden was really serious about the opioid crisis and actually “Walked the walk” he would, rather than setting up collection sites in Oregon for the disposal of excess opioid and prescription medications, do what I would do if I was your US Congressman.
If I were your US Congressman I would:
- Substantially increase the money Congress is currently spending on addiction treatment programs (rather than give the top 1% of Americans a big tax cut);
- Not support the 2018 Trump budget which proposes cutting nearly $400 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that oversees addiction treatment programs; and
- Lead the charge to restore the DEA’s authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act and the regulations implemented under the act.