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Legalize It

Jun 18, 2015 - 12 comments

It's my opinion (strongly backed up by facts) that the only way to actually prevent deaths via heroin OD instead of just doing a lot of useless hand-wringing is to push for full legalization as well as for complete de-stigmatizaion. Because frankly, criminalization simply isn't working.

You find out your kid is a heroin addict, what's the first thing you do? Well, in an ideal world, you make sure they have a source for clean drugs of a predictable strength, clean needles, and you make that access contingent upon them becoming experts in the safe administration of those drugs. Make sure they have Narcan in their kit and if they feel the need to take a big dose they do it with a buddy. That would knock out a huge majority of the ODs. Provide them with a path out of addiction, if they wish to take it. But if not, make their lives as an addict as comfortable and safe as possible.

Our current approach is roughly analogous to abstinence sex ed training for high school students. It is of use only to those kids who were probably going to remain celibate anyway. For everyone else, all it does is increase risky behavior.

Do a web search on legal heroin in Switzerland. Look at the numbers. If you think criminalization is a better way, I'd love to hear your views on this topic.

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4810126 tn?1503946335
by EvolverU, Jun 21, 2015
Hi Ben :),

I'd like to wade through this with you if you're amenable. I saw this the day it was posted & wanted a chance to discuss it. I haven't had the time but promised myself I'd make it. This morning, I did some preliminary checking to refresh my memory on the various experiments in Europe.

What I would like, if you're game, is for you to tell me about the numbers &/or anecdotal evidence bolstering your argument if possible.

This is a thorny issue & I feel it's (unfortunately!) not as cut & dried as you presented. I like your analogy to teaching sexual abstinence, though.

I'll table my reactions to what you wrote on this complex subject 'til I hear back & have more of a chance to formulate & commit my various thoughts on this important subject to cyber paper.

Happy Father's Day to you, old friend! :)

1742220 tn?1331360327
by meegWpaw, Jun 21, 2015
I agree with you, Ben.

I think legalization of narcotics, including pot, is the only way to both de-stigmatize the whole issue as well as make it safe.  But the drug trafficking industry / illegality is making way too much money for governments and continues to ghetto-ize and marginalize users.  It's a great way to reinforce the entrenched hierarchies of societies.

mp

10996785 tn?1432816577
by refills, Jun 21, 2015
Very good discussions on a controversial subject. This is so interesting in this format, as people will not usually get the perspective from this side of the street. (known dope users) Myself, I gave it up many years ago. Like many, I became paranoid and too self aware. A problem I believe is inherent and not necessarily caused by pot use. I have some folk at a ripe older age that still puff. I raised 3 kids and I knew right away who would be the child that would take to pot. I think he still would if not for his job.

The only point I would express would be that, IMO, these sort of social issues can be vetted in a way through employment. Not the Government. (addicts will be addicts) It's not the dope's fault. Again, In my opinion, Let's face it. Legalization is coming. Can we get it right the first time? Seems like the usual progressive states are on the right track. I'll leave the scientific garble to the experts.

5575813 tn?1452484685
by Hollus, Jun 21, 2015
Sounds like a better way to me!

1796826 tn?1558679629
by Ben727, Jun 22, 2015
@EvolverU: Here you go: http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/DPA_Fact_Sheet_Heroin-Assisted_Treatment_Feb2014.pdf This doc summarizes the findings of 30 peer-reviewed studies which are referenced in the footnote if you want to look them up. I'd argue that this IS a cut-and-dried issue. Legalization (or decriminalization) is the ONLY option a reasonable person can choose based on the facts available. That said, the WAY drugs are legalized/decriminalized is entirely up for debate. Also up for debate is WHICH drugs are legalized/decriminalized. (I apologize for the CAPS, but lack of bold or italics makes writing concisely difficult. Please consider those caps to be italics).

@meegWpaw: Yes. Unfortunately, what you've said is factually correct. I don't see a grand conspiracy, but rather a collection of vested interests that collectively creates the results you describe. These vested interests rely on an uneducated population that's been told how to think about drugs and drug addicts for about 90 years. The Internet is the first medium with the power to change that model.

@refills: I too stopped smoking cannabis years ago for very similar reason to the ones you describe. To be honest, I am past arguing about legalizing cannabis. It's a done deal. We will see another large batch of states, including CA, legalize it completely in 2016. Please note the difference between legalization and decriminalization. It has been decriminalized in a majority of states already. Full legalization is only in four states as of today. My post is arguing to that we should legalize/decriminalize heroin.

@Hollus: I'm glad we can count on your vote.

7163794 tn?1457370413
by motye51, Jun 22, 2015
I'm not sure I agree with this way to go to help curb heroin addiction or overdoses...but, I know many people that feel this is the way to go.  But I do have one question......."....make an addicts life as safe and comfortable as possible...." well, I won't be doing that. If you want to do that, you can go for it...but no one changes anything when their safe and comfortable.  Just a thought....

1796826 tn?1558679629
by Ben727, Jun 22, 2015
@moyte51: I included that language for a reason. If we follow your reasoning, what you're saying is: "Addicts will only quit if they are made to be uncomfortable. If we can simply make people feel as uncomfortable as possible, they will eventually have to quit." Our current stance on drugs and addiction is to criminalize the user - which is to make them as uncomfortable as possible. An approach that clearly isn't working. If you're against legalization/decriminalization, do you have a suggestion for an alternative? Or are you OK with our current approach?

7163794 tn?1457370413
by motye51, Jun 30, 2015
I know im not for legalizing it....but no, the current road isnt working either....your right....but i dont see how giving addicts a safe, clean place to use will solve it either??? I was only able to take it upon myself to wuitquit when my situation became UNCOMFORTABLE....i read somewherw that in Canada you cant buy candy in vending machines anymore...but you can buy clean, sterile rigs???? This makes no sense to me....heroin bad...but candy is worse???
I think other ideas should be thrown around before legalize it becomes our answer. Yeah, pot is legal in CO...woohooo...and in about 2/3 years were going to have a state full of brain dead idiots that cant do **** fir themselves cause they're burnt worms....totally looking forward to that!!!!! Lol....honestly i dont know what the answer is????

1796826 tn?1558679629
by Ben727, Jul 01, 2015
@motye51: The problem with any argument about cannabis is alcohol. Unless you've never smoked, you know that alcohol is the more dangerous drug by far. So saying that legalizing cannabis is going to create a state full of brain-dead idiots is like saying that legalizing alcohol would create a nation of alcoholics. It's not true. The reality is that some people are going to have substance abuse problems and some are not. Whether or not a given substance is legal is not a real deterrent to its use. We tried Prohibition of alcohol and it didn't work. The prohibition of cannabis hasn't worked either.

As for heroin, I do see your point. But the issue is that any real solution simply has to include decriminalization. As long as heroin is illegal and stigmatized, we will continue to see the crisis of overdose deaths, mostly by young people. And that's the crux of my argument: How many kids have to die before we as a society are willing to look at alternatives? Peer-reviewed scientific data (link in an earlier comment) has show legalization dramatically reduces these deaths in the countries that have legalized heroin. What more do we need?

7163794 tn?1457370413
by motye51, Jul 01, 2015
I would like to see actual DATA that states that making heroin legal has caused heroine USE to go down...not heroin O/D's....USE.  I wish there was something else we could do....like beat the **** out of them till they quit (totally being sarcastic) but I hate the idea of giving in to making it legal???  You know, some people just won't get it.... EVER....that's just part of the disease of addiction....it's a killer.  I've been in N/A now for 18 months (pick up my 18 month keytag in fact, today) and I know at least 5 people that are no longer there...due to overdoses (not just heroin, but some)....it's sad but they state that....one more time may be the last time.   This topic will always cause debate b/c I don't think anyone really knows WHAT to do....
As far as the argument of alcohol/ vs weed....yes, they both kill brain cells....but it seems like one quicker than the other! lol, I can just see a town full of burnt, brownie eating people that don't have a clue. I'm going to withhold my opinion on weed until a couple of years pass and we can revisit CO and see how there doing? What's their productivity rate? How many people are smoking every day? How many young people are still in school....graduating high school/ college?  I'm going to wait....

1796826 tn?1558679629
by Ben727, Jul 01, 2015
@motye51: the Canadian trial reported a two-thirds (67 percent) reduction in illicit drug use or other illegal activity among HAT participants. Similar reductions in illicit heroin use were reported from HAT trials in the UK (72 percent) and Germany (69 percent). HAT patients also experience less (and less severe) cravings, helping to explain their decreased use. HAT has also demonstrated an added benefit of reducing participants’ use of alcohol and other drugs.

Link is in previous comment if you want to take a look. This is peer-reviewed scientific data from multiple sources, not conjecture.

Avatar universal
by pillguy, Jul 31, 2015
How much more evidence do we need that prohibition doesn't work.  I just can't go with "we need to try harder" anymore.
Many people supporting prohibition also favor restricting the use of Suboxone.  I don't get it.  About 70% of my county's budget goes for criminal justice.  I could sent all the users to college or trade schools for free based on what its costing me to process them through the system, over and over and over.  Probably well over 80% of property crimes are to fund drug use.  We are getting close to 100 years of govt prohibition of drugs.  Its time for something different.

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