Vermont Senate Approves Police Access To Drug Files

While a federal court ruled Florida’s drug-testing law unconstitutional yesterday, not all news is good news in terms of invasions of health issues.  Vermont Public Radio reports:

The Vermont Senate has voted to allow police access without a search warrant to a database of Vermonters’ prescriptions maintained by the Vermont Department of Health.

In an 18-11 vote after more than two hours of debate on Wednesday, the Senate rejected the arguments of some members that allowing police access to the database would violate rights against search and seizure promised by the U.S. and Vermont constitutions.

The majority sided with those saying police access would not be unlimited, and that investigators need to be able to crack down on an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the state.

The House earlier voted to require a search warrant before police got access to the database. A conference committee likely will have to work out the difference.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been following the state laws on prescription databases and by now, many states do have laws that open up databases to law enforcement in the name of busting prescription abusers (usually pain killer medications). But since these situations are usually not emergency situations with imminent danger involved, why can’t law enforcement be required to show probable cause to obtain a warrant? Inconvenient for law enforcement, perhaps, but if the real issue is that law enforcement doesn’t have enough information to rise to the level of probable cause, do we really want them able to access someone’s prescription records?

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