Politicians Want to Put Combination Locks on Pill Bottles to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Two Tennessee legislators are proposing a new policy that would put combination locks on pill bottles. The lawmakers say that pill bottles containing opioids are too easy to open, thus making them easier to steal. It is likely, however, that opiate pills are sold voluntarily far more often than they are stolen.

The Pilfering Prevention Act, introduced by Senator Richard Briggs and Representative Matthew Hill, would make the new combination lock pill bottles mandatory in the state of Tennessee.

Senator Richard Briggs claims that citizens of his state are accidentally overdosing because they don’t know how powerful the drugs are:

“Too often well-meaning Tennesseans are completely unaware of the highly addictive, and potentially lethal, prescriptions drugs sitting in the family medicine cabinet. This is where drug addiction starts, and often where accidental overdoses occur. These drugs are being manufactured and prescribed in record numbers, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that drug-related deaths are at an all-time high in Tennessee. We must explore every tool to combat this epidemic, and my bill is a practical and important step in the right direction.”

Representative Matthew Hill said that this new policy could prevent drug abuse:

“Currently there is little distinction between the way commonly-prescribed drugs and highly-addictive and dangerous drugs are dispensed in Tennessee. If we’re going to be serious about addressing our obvious prescription drug problem in Tennessee, we have to implement safeguards that differentiate certain dangerous prescriptions and divert the possibility of abuse. That’s what my bill aims to do.”

Similar efforts have been made to mandate combination lock pill bottles in other U.S. states including Michigan, Colorado and Maryland, but the legislation has failed. Lawmakers who voted against the bill cited cost, with the new bottles adding an estimated $5 onto an average prescription.

The overall sentiment is that this will prevent teens from getting their hands on their parent’s opiates since most addictions begin in adolescence. However, this attitude overlooks the fact that opiates are extremely easy to source, even for children. This policy is putting a band-aid on a larger problem that politicians are refusing to address.

The decades long drug war has increased addiction and drug related crime despite the increase in both enforcement and punishment. Evidence indicates that ending prohibition of even the most controversial drugs like meth and heroin, would actually reduce crime and addiction. However, politicians continue to turn a blind eye to real solutions and instead advocate for revenue-generating punishment-based policies.

In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to end the drug war within its borders. In the short time since, the country has seen a radical improvement in their society. Drugs now have a smaller impact on Portugal’s society as a whole than they did prior to the end of prohibition. There are now fewer drug-related deaths, fewer children getting ahold of drugs, and fewer people doing drugs in general. Many other factors that are often overlooked including the fact that infectious diseases spread through needles and dirty drug practices have declined rapidly in Portugal since the end of drug prohibition. Also, there are far fewer conflicts with citizens and police than there once were and many prisons have even shut down because there is not enough crime.

The drug war is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the mainstream political dialogue today, even among those who are sympathetic to the plight of responsible drug users. It is rare for someone to publicly admit that all drugs should be legal, but according to the evidence, this is the only logically consistent stance on the issue. To say that some drugs should be legal while others should not, is giving credence to the punishment paradigm and overlooking the external consequences of drug prohibition—or prohibition of anything, for that matter.

As was previously described by The Anti-Media, there are many external factors that are affected by the drug war that aren’t often taken into account. That is because when you carry out acts of violence, even in the form of punishment, you create a ripple effect which extends far beyond the bounds of the original circumstance and end up affecting many innocent people down the line. This list delves into those external factors to illustrate how drug users and non-users alike would be far better off if prohibition ended immediately.