The shift from the guy on the corner, to the guy in the corner office
Over the years, drug dealers have taken many forms. Drug culture really exploded in the 60’s and 70’s with the hippie movement and has reshaped our society. Until that time, the most commonly abused substances in America were tobacco and alcohol. The past few decades have seen continued growth of the drug trade and new drugs have taken prominence. It is no wonder drugs are so readily available – drugs are extremely profitable to sell. They have been since day one. The raw materials are generally very inexpensive and the customer (addicts) are willing to pay almost anything to get the product because they are addicted, after all. From the 80’s to the 90’s drugs came from all over the world. Cocaine based drugs come from South America and are smuggled in through Mexico, California and Florida. Heroin generally comes from Asia. Many other drugs are grown locally in certain regions or synthetically created from chemicals. But there is one similarity in origins of these drugs – the beginning of the supply chain, the place where all these drugs originate, starts with an individual, small group or illegal crime organization. No matter how sophisticated these drug dealers become, they end up getting caught or killed because they are criminals supplying illegal drugs. Law enforcement notices, other gangs notice, and eventually something happens to take these drug dealers out of the equation.
In the past 10 years, something has changed…
The drugs most commonly found in overdose victims are no longer cocaine, heroin, or other imported substances – they are pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals now account for more drug overdoes than any other drug in our nations history. This is startling for many reasons.
1) Pharmaceutical ‘pills’ are so tiny and innocent looking that many people underestimate their power. Just a few pills are enough to kill an adult. One of the most common ways for a drug overdose to occur is from taking multiple pills together. Often called a ‘drug cocktail’ these overdoses are lethal in most instances, especially when taken with alcohol. The fact that they are so tiny and easy to consume makes them that much more dangerous.
2) These pills are not illegal to possess as long as the person has a prescription for them. In the past, just having cocaine, heroin or any other drug would land you in jail. But if you have a legal prescription for a type of pill you get away clean. No arrests. Many states such as Florida have an abundance of ‘Pain Management Clinics’ willing to handout prescriptions for anyone willing to pay the price. These prescriptions are commonly for painkillers or anxiety medications. There’s been recent movement to crack down on these ‘pill mills’ for their role as a drug distributor. Many out of state visitors get prescriptions and take them back to their home state to sell for a premium. This process is essentially streamlining the drug distributorship. And don’t forget this is legal, for the time being.
3) Also, think about this – where do these pain clinics and doctors get their drugs from? Not from a Colombian drug lord, Vietnamese heroin field, or some guy standing on the corner in a bad neighborhood. Nope. It all comes from the nations top pharmaceutical companies. These companies are almost all publicly traded on the stock market. The CEO’s primary concern is to increase profits and sales, quarter after quarter. So of course it makes sense to sell as many pills to as many doctors and clinics around the nation, after all that’s what the shareholders are demanding. Pharmaceutical Reps are paid extremely well for peddling their company’s products. Why? Because it’s extremely profitable.
Pharmaceutical CEO’s are now the nations most powerful drug dealers. No gangster sitting in a hideout with automatic weapons. Now it’s boardrooms with chilled water on the table and three-piece suits. Instead of shootouts in the streets for territory, it’s lawyers battling over trademarks, patents and copyright infringement. Instead of paying off the cops, you pay the lobbyists to lookout for your interests. Distribution channels are streamlined and legal. The costs to operate are high, but the profits are even higher. It’s all legal now. The drug dealer is the CEO who gets paid a 7 figure salary and receives annual bonuses. The drug dealer has a family with kids that go to private schools. The drug dealer has a Labrador, lives in a nice neighborhood and doesn’t even own a gun. This drug dealer has a teenage son who just had a school memorial for a student who overdosed on pharmaceutical drugs. This is the age of corporate drug dealing. And we should all be scared.
By: Nate Blair (brother of Jennifer)