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Matt Simon

Matt Simon

Posted: November 12, 2007 08:04 AM

Rudy Defends Oxycontin Work, Cites Wife As Pot Expert




The following piece was produced by HuffPost's OffTheBus.

I've been doing some filming and a lot of writing, but I hadn't asked a question at a Town Hall since I went to see John McCain in Wolfeboro August 10. With Rudy Giuliani appearing at St. Anselm's College Monday, I felt like it would be a good chance for me to get off the schneid.

When Giuliani concluded his opening remarks, my hand was first into the air. I stuck it up there nice and tall while the rest of the audience was still quivering in fear, so he had no choice but to call on me.

Here was my question: "The New York Times reported in June that last summer you served as lead counsel for Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxycontin who lied to the government about the narcotic's addictive qualities. (I have a copy of that article with me today.) Given that Oxycontin, AKA "Hillbilly Heroin" killed hundreds of people a year and marijuana kills nobody, what sense did it make to arrest over 800,000 Americans last year for marijuana, which doesn't kill anybody? Isn't 2.3 million enough people behind bars in this country?"

Note that my questions were specifically about arrests and incarcerations. Would you expect his answers to be about those topics? Sorry, that's not how it works with this guy, who has been dodging and deflecting bullets in the nation's toughest city for a lot of years. He began (quite sensibly) by defending his representation of Purdue Pharma.

"Well, the work that my law firm and my security firm did for Purdue was very valuable work. We helped them secure the whole situation because one of things that happens with any of these controlled substances, they get stolen. And we put together a system to reduce dramatically the amount of stealing that took place. We increased the accountability of it."

Okay, Mayor, but you were on Purdue's side, and they were a pharmaceutical company that had done very bad things. You cut the best deal for them you could, which is what lawyers do. But go on.

"And the medicine that you're talking about has a valid purpose for 99... I don't know the exact... 99% plus people who use it. And then it gets diverted."

Some expert reading this will have to let me know whether the numbers exist to refute this unsupportable claim. Based on what I've seen in real life, the government has no way of knowing whether people are taking their own prescriptions or selling them. The profits are considerable, and today lots of pharmaceuticals are bought legitimately by people with prescriptions and then sold at a markup to friends. The market in pain pills is especially risky and therefore lucrative.

But I certainly never suggested a ban on Oxycontin. I just wanted Giuliani to maybe observe that Oxycontin is a heck of a lot more dangerous than marijuana. No such luck.

"And my understanding of marijuana, and I've checked with the FDA and my wife, who is a nurse and has a lot of training in that area..."

Training in what area? Has she ever smoked pot?!?! Has she ever observed its effect on people?!?! Has the FDA?!?! (The answer to the last question is no.)

"...is that every single thing that you want to do with marijuana, you can accomplish with a whole host of already existing medicines..."

As if marijuana isn't an "already existing medicine." It's been around for a while, you know. And did I mention it's far safer and far less addictive than Oxycontin?

"And unless the FDA changed its mind, I certainly wouldn't overrule them."

Mayor, the FDA doesn't enforce federal drug laws. That's done by the DEA, which is under the president's Department of Justice. This is not about overruling the FDA, which like yourself works closely with the pharmaceutical companies. (As an agency of the executive branch, the FDA is not in any way accountable to the American people.) Instead, it is about overruling the will of voters and legislators in the 12 states that have legalized marijuana for valid medicinal purposes.

As a Republican, you are supposed to understand this concept. It's right there in the Constitution you will swear to uphold if you are elected president, and if you can't find the 10th Amendment yourself, there are plenty of voters in "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire who would be happy to point out it out for you.

If we want medical marijuana in New Hampshire, we will have it, sir.