published Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Catoosa County limits pain clinics

RINGGOLD, Ga. -- Fearing that "pill mills" being kicked out of Florida may set up shop here, the Catoosa County Commission put a six-month moratorium on pain management clinics.

"Since we're so close to I-75, we want to be proactive," County Attorney C. Chad Young said Tuesday during a public hearing on the ordinance.

It regulates pain clinics that write and fill prescriptions for "highly addictive" medication.

"We are talking specifically about a clinic that is set up for profit," Young said.

The ordinance would require pain management clinics to pay a $400 application fee and list the names of anyone with a financial interest in the business along with any felony convictions they have.

"Quite often, [clinic funding] comes from organized crime," Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent J. Russell Grant told commissioners.

The ordinance cites a Broward County, Fla., grand jury report that found the number of clinics there exploded from four in 2007 to 115 two years later, dispensing 9 million doses of oxycodone. Young adults 18 to 25 have shown high levels of recreational prescription drug use, the ordinance states.

"I think it behooves us to be extremely proactive," Commissioner Jim Cutler said, praising his colleagues for unanimously approving the 13-page ordinance.

The six-month moratorium will allow Catoosa County to coordinate efforts with Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe, which are drawing up similar ordinances, and to monitor Georgia House Bill 972, which would regulate pain management clinics statewide. The bill passed the Georgia House on Monday.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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