Op-Ed

‘Habs vs. the Hab-Nots’ of the pill epidemic, and one idea that might actually help

In the pill culture it’s the Habs vs. the Hab-Nots. Some have been habbed, rehabbed and re-rehabbed, which usually results in them going from pills to meth. Then they prioritize their teeth and count how many they have left. Church cookbooks deep in the hills have a recipe for cooking meth. Bids are taken in Xanax at Friday night used furniture auctions. These are the Habs.

Mountain Habs are the innocent byproduct of the great disability culture which sprang up about 1969 or 1970 when the government started subsidizing disability, not in the real world sense of the word, but ‘disability’ as determined by laws or rules, and as proven to the government by some friendly local doctor. The trouble was, if you could get a doctor to swear that you hurt bad all the time, he was bound to prescribe you something to help. If you are to stay disabled, that doctor must over time declare that your symptoms are worse and thus your dose higher. Your dose that somebody else pays the pharmacy for.

To get a check or two you had to have a lawyer too, and so the country lawyers that could get people on them became local heroes, and rich ones at that. One of the best of these was a guy we all called “Hurl,” even after Hurl went on to become a District Judge and then a Circuit Judge.

Hurl was Harold Stumbo, Greg’s father, who was a passionate and effective defender of the classes of mountain people who needed help. You see, not all people who live in the mountains are real rich. As their lawyer, as their judge, as one of them, Hurl valued the lower classes, and kept them and the rich from stealing too much from each other. He would have had great sympathy for the Habs. So when I see Greg Stumbo, I don’t think of Nancy Pelosi or Bill Clinton’s wife, I see Hurl.

When I see Greg, I think of all the stupid legislation he blocked and every now and then some stupid legislation he was for. I do not choose to let his personal life overshadow his political one.

The Hab-Nots are not addicts and do not fake toothache and do not, much, walk down the road naked. They just wonder what in the world can be done to make things better, and if there is anybody they can vote for that might have some notion how to help this drug problem.

Hurl’s boy Greg was the only one in this campaign to present an idea which would genuinely and quickly help what they call the ‘opioid crisis.’ The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes would simply get addicts off something addictive and onto something which is not. Addicts would soon learn how to catch whatever disease it is that medical marijuana cures and maybe even get Medicaid to pay for it.

Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrencer@bellsouth.net.

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