If there's one truth about the FX show Justified, it's that every episode will include at least one great line from the main character, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. Take the bar scene from season one, when he tells two unruly men to quiet down because "I didn't order assholes with my whiskey."
So it was disappointing last night to hear TV's best quote machine describe how to make a fortune off pain pills. All you need to do, Raylan said, is "go to Broward."
He's right, of course. Broward has become the nation's pill mill capital, with strip malls from the beach to the Everglades dotted with oxy shops, spitting out bags of prescriptions to people who pull up with Appalachian
plates and a taste for a cheap drug as addictive as heroin.
Last night's show also illustrated what happens to those pill addicts once they head back north. It begins with a stolen church bus used to make a run down to Jacksonville. It has returned with a duffel bag full of prescription bottles. Thieves stop the bus, kill one of the men onboard protecting the shipment, and grab the bag full of dope.
From there, things get worse. Another thief robs the first two crooks, there's a shootout, and two more men die. It's all fiction, of course, but there's an ugly truth to the episode. Last year, 485 people died of prescription drug overdose in Kentucky, one of the main pipeline states for oxy from Florida (and also where Justified is set). A Kentucky sheriff told NBC News: "We are drowning in a sea of prescription medication."
What's to blame for that sea of medication? Florida, the pain pill "promised land," the sheriff said.
That's not likely to end anytime soon. Authorities just this week busted up several clinics they say were dispensing pills illegally, even booking one owner reportedly making $150,000 a day. But new Florida Gov. Rick Scott has threatened to cut funding to a law that would provide monitoring of pill clinics, a measure that would close many of our pill mills -- if not all.
As Raylan Givens says, "Let me tell you something: There are other things than smart."