I'm not saying that we shouldn't treat these people with compassion -- exactly the opposite. The LA Times series in particular is a fantastic piece of reporting. Rather, I'm saying we should consider why the portrayal of this particular drug epidemic is so different than others, and how we can extend the same compassion to others who have also had their lives and families destroyed by drugs. We hear about these people because they're white. Meanwhile, what's happening to the people we don't hear about?
edited to correct grammar
There is a smoking gun! Look at West Virginia and the pills that were prescribed. I am talking about 780,000,000 pain meds. In a state of 1.84 million residents, the shipments amount to 433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.
The death toll for this 5 year time between 2007-2012 is 1,728 West Virginians died from overdoses of hydrocodone and oxycodone.
So you are 100% right about public perception. I live in a large city in PA and my In-laws come to visit from W.Va and I always tell them I see more people high in W.Va then in my Center City neighborhood and they always roll their eyes like I am crazy.
This seems like a way to raise awareness in a more responsible way.
EDIT: also I want to be clear that I don't think journalists are sitting at their desks saying "Uh oh, white people are in trouble! Sound the alarm!". This is great coverage, and it's a complicated issue.
1. It is reportedly a better pain killer in some cases than opioids so it keeps people off of the prescription opioids
2. It is nowhere near as addictive (possibly not addictive at all)
3. When people are already criminals (because they smoke weed) I think they are more likely to say "screw it" and try a harder drug. In the vein of, "I'm already doing something I can go to jail for, what's one more thing?" Legalizing keeps people out of the criminal class (increases barrier of entry to it)
I'm actually for legalizing all drugs like several other posters but I don't think society is ready for that.
I got in a argument with a close relative (a retired police officer) and another close relative (a doctor) about this on Easter. There arguments were entirely based on emotion and lot so logical fallacies. And understandably, they have both seen the darkest sides of what drugs can do. But criminalizing doesn't help those people.
Well, Colorado tried that. Recreational weed has been fully legal in Colorado since January 1, 2014. You can walk down any major street in Denver or Boulder and pass multiple outlets selling marijuana. And they've sold lots of it, according to the tax receipts raised.
The result has not been the sudden reversal of opioid addiction that you had hoped for.
In 2015, opioid overdoses in Colorado continued to increase at the same rate as prior to legalization of marijuana. That year, opioid overdoses killed more Coloradans than homicide. 
In 2016, the total number of opioid deaths dropped 6%, but the number of heroin overdoses continued to increase. 
Personal experience in Portland Oregon suggests that in that city, legal marijuana has not made a dent in the meth and heroin issues that are still affecting the city.
Maybe recreational marijuana laws have helped. Nothing in this data can disprove that maybe more people would have died without it. But it hasn't been a magic bullet. It hasn't yet gone "a long way to" solving the problem of heroin overuse.
[FWIW, I'm in favor of recreational marijuana legalization, but the problems of heroin have different roots and we can't expect legal marijuana to immediately solve those issues.]
I didn't say "sudden". I think it would take time.
Addiction doesn't happen overnight. I am open minded and I am not going to ignore research if the research doesn't support my view. But my hunch is, it is too soon or too much damage has already been done and we need to take other steps to reduce usage not just legalization.
Incidentally I thought I saw some research that showed the opposite effect but I can't find the link right now... I'll take a look for it later and see if I can find it.
Hence I wouldn't really expect legalization of any drug X to improve problems with any drug Y in most cases. But if legalization itself helps with drug problems in general, I might expect that only legalizing drug Y would help drug Y's problems.
I suspect it will be about a decade before any really good analysis can be done on that aspect.
I don't think anyone (even the parent commentor) thinks that would happen. At best, I think we can only hope for prevention, and even that will require a lengthy period reeducation and destigmatization. Speaking from experience, it's nearly impossible to truly reverse opioid addiction. Preventing that addiction in the first place by utilizing other non-or-less-addictive pain control methods, such as marijuana, is our only hope.
As prescription opioid deaths drop 6 percent in Colorado, heroin deaths rise 23 percent
Overall, the total number of opiate deaths — meaning deaths from both prescription painkillers like fentanyl or from illegal opiates like heroin — fell by about 6 percent, from 472 deaths in 2015 to 442 deaths in 2016.
No it isn't and no it won't. If you have serious pain issues, then cannabis will not help at all.
If you are just referring to a slight ache in your back in the morning, ok there is some research (clinical and anecdotal) that cannabis can be useful as as anti inflammatory. But you should not be getting opiods for this anyway.
Part of the problem IMO based on speaking to various people from various countries, the US is just far too happy to prescribe strong medication (generalisation I know but still) whereas for the same ailments in other countries you would get nothing. Whether this is do to the profitization of the US health care system, or whether when you are paying as much as people in the US are you want to feel like you are getting something in return. To be told, do a few stretches, take a parecetamol (tylenol?) may not seem like good value for money, even if it is the better advice (I have seen similar behaviour in some other countries where health care if more privatised)
I noticed this when I got my wisdom teeth taken out in Japan. Typically in America, they knock you out and remove all four at once and give you powerful drugs after the procedure to help with the pain. When I got the procedure done in Japan I was originally scheduled to have four separate procedures, until I complained and even then it was moved down to two, one for each side of my mouth. The anesthesia was local and the drugs I got were extremely light. I was definitely in pain way longer than friends who got the procedure, but it was bearable and ultimately I think I'm better off for not being described a hard opioid.
My grandma has arthritis and a lot of back pain and the doctor gave her morphine. I doubt anything is better than that but it does seem overly excessive, although stretches and tylenol as you suggest is definitely too weak for her.
I think there's a really nice place for marijuana as a pain medication.
I believe parent may be suggesting that marijuana should not be regarded as a universal substitute for any and all use palliative uses of opiates.
> No it isn't and no it won't. If you have serious pain issues, then cannabis will not help at all.
Anecdotal evidence from working at cannabis dispensaries (and possibly some studies I've seen, but I'm not going to look 'em up.) suggest while you won't get off opiates for serious chronic pain, if you consume (usually edible) cannabis and opiates your dosage of the opiates can come down significantly and lead to better quality of life.
This is key. Prescription pain killers are the gateway drug to heroin, not marijuana. Many normal, working class people become unexpectedly addicted to opioids by using medications exactly as prescribed. Rush Limbaugh is probably the most high-profile example of this. The tighter rules on opioid prescriptions might have some effect, but it will likely take FDA approval of marijuana for this to be reversed.
> 3. When people are already criminals (because they smoke weed) I think they are more likely to say "screw it" and try a harder drug....
Somewhat agree here, but I don't think they try heroin because they're already doing weed. They do it because life is shit and heroin is a hell of an escape. When life is that bad it's really hard to see the downside to using hard drugs.
There are also some people that use heroin because of psychological issues or social pressure, but I think easy access to weed would reduce that as well.
1. As far as I know, it doesn't actually kill pain, people just report that they no longer are bothered by the pain, or able to ignore it and still function. Which is probably better.
2. Fairly sure its not addictive at all in the pharmaceutical sense, and quite positive it can be in the way say World of Warcraft or other entertainment can be.
3. I actually buy the "gateway theory", but only because of this.
Opposition seems to be the result of habit and years of ascribing negative virtue to recreational drug use (probably discounting alcohol cause cognitive dissonance).
One idea that I don't see brought up a lot is using cannabis in a rehab setting; basically trying to get people to replace one mind-altering substance with another. I don't think that should necessarily be a permanent solution but it seems more realistic than asking someone to go from doing drugs every day to being stone cold sober at all times. Cannabis could take the edge off and provide the mind altering feeling that some addicts seem to crave. 
In all fairness I'm sure there are failures in this idea but I think it's worth exploring once we accept that cannabis is just nowhere near hard drugs on the harm spectrum.
Point number two: Marijuana is addictive and individuals with marijuana addiction entering voluntary rehab is increasing:(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797098/)
Theory: The reason one does not get physical withdraws is that it is oil based, stored in the fat and slowly dissipates in about 2-weeks or so whereas heroin is water soluble and leaves the body within 24-hours...
Heavy smokers may feel different when stopping, may have a few sleepless nights due to dreams returning, may be irritable, feel bored, but it is not at all comparable to those coming off a heavy opioid addiction.
There is no equal disadvantage. If all heroin addicts were to magically over night turn into cannabis addicts and no longer be heroin addicts there will be many advantages and next to no disadvantages. Crime will go down. They will become employable, they will be able to lead "normal" lives. Disadvantages? I am not really thinking of any, let alone any that are equal
It's irresponsible to assume that marijuana is harmless and non-addictive or only mildly addictive, and too easy to justify as being benign, when juxtaposed wth the withdrawal process of harder drugs.
The psychological "withdrawal" can be much worse, but there is a whole range of regular things that can lead to those addictions. And it is often abused to hide other mental health issues, which can flare up while quitting.
I've seen first hand mentally stable folks who quit smoking marijuana after full time use for a number of decades. The withdrawal symptoms in these folks were far from mild, and lasted more than "at most a couple of weeks". Long term insomnia alone is a serious risk factor, due to their dependence on marijuana to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
While your generalization that marijuana withdrawal is tame may be true in many cases, particularly for light or short term use, it is false for long term daily users.
Most people entering voluntary rehab do so under duress. Specifically, they are doing so as part of a plea bargain, to avoid serving prison time for a drug charge.
Additionally those stats are often considered to be enormously skewed as one of the primary ways you can avoid a drug charge in some places is to "voluntarily" enter rehab for it. So while it looks like pot addiction is up, it is really that pot arrests are up.
This would also explain why in the study minorities seem to have a higher rate of "addiction", as they're more than twice as likely to be arrested for minor drug charges and thus more likely to be put in this situation.
If society isn't ready for that, why are you for it?
(fwiw, I'm with you on marijuana, and hope to see the day when it's as legal as cigarettes - but people have been optimistic about marijuana for decades :/)
Not OP, but I think this means that it isn't a mainstream enough idea to get traction, and that it might be political suicide for an elected official to suggest it, not that society is ill-equipped to handle it if it did happen.
I share this position. I think it's a good idea to legalize most drugs, but I think actively working toward legalizing drugs other than marijuana today would not get much in the way of results.
The drug war has been a complete and utter failure from the viewpoint of society (those who have profited may disagree, but I hope we can agree their views can be ignored). IT has ruined lives, brought misery and suffering to many, all but destroyed some countries, helped wars continue long after they would have otherwise, unfairly targeted minorities.
And for what gains? None, absolutely nothing. Drugs are cheaper, purer and more available than ever. That is all the billions if not trillions of $ has achieved.
We should absolutely change how we deal with drugs and addition, but I'm not convinced that straight legalizing things like meth is the right approach, either.
I actually hope to see the day when cannabis is more legal than tobacco cigarettes. When cannabis starts piling up the corpses, it can then be made as legal.
Whereas legalizing it would mean that I'm free to manufacture meth and heroin and market it, and sell it to others; I would still have an incentive to use some drugs' inherently and biologically addictive nature to profit myself at the expense of others.
I specifically say "inherently and biologically" because many things are addictive to a degree - alcohol, tobacco, video games, in-game purchases, gambling - and any of them can ruin some person's life. But they don't appear to be as universally addictive as, say, heroin or meth, which can have terrible repercussions even if you stop using them. It's a difference of degree, but it's a significant one, and I want to head off at the pass any argument that selling meth to my neighbors is no different than selling them sugary soda or cookie-clicker clones.
And you can't tax them too highly, either, or those black markets spring right back into existence. See moonshining or cigarette smuggling for examples. A 25% excise tax at the point of sale to the consumer is probably the highest you can go. Taxation is, after all, one of the ways in which prohibition was backdoored into existence, and the amount of the tax is the maximum possible profit margin for someone whose sole business is evading the tax.
That leaves open the question of how you keep the most dangerous drugs--generally the opioids--from ruining people. That's really a moot point until the end of prohibition seems imminent. If certain people won't consider any other option, it's useless to throw one out there for discussion.
Legalization brings these people into society, by removing the stigma associated with drug use, and makes it less of a problem to be swept under the rug. It makes it easier to contact addicts and get them into effective treatment programs. Right now, there is a huge wall between addicts and treatment: that wall is an entirely fictitious legal construct.
Unfortunately your comment also reminds me how enormous the barriers remain toward people recognizing alcoholism and having the will to treat it. There's an enormous amount of shame, stigma, and denial toward alcoholism, to the point that most who suffer from it still choose to hide that reality as much as they possibly can.
Even worse, the legality of it promotes a culture of celebration (advertising, fancy and elaborate liquor branding, snazzy bars, nightlife culture, bottle service, etc. etc) that is in so many ways uniquely destructive in its own right. Like everyone should be able to find joy in drinking, and those who struggle have something horribly wrong in them that carries the risk of denying them the good life, friends, social opportunities, cultural connection, and so on (suddenly mundane invitations to bars, cocktail parties, weddings, shows, dinner at a friend's home, drinks with co-workers, etc. become awkward and potentially dangerous).
There's a whole culture built around it: mainstream culture. And someone facing their problems with this particular drug face the prospect of losing access to the culture of their entire society. That's just daunting.
I don't think making alcohol illegal would help. But it's no walk in the park even legal. And poses some of its own unique challenges.
We already tried this experiment once. Making alcohol illegal did two things.
It actually reduced consumption and alcoholism.
It greatly increased the amount of black market crime, and it drastically changed how it was consumed.
Harm in vice will always occur. We just have to decide if we want it in the form of overdose, or the form of black market versus police state violence.
Heroin addicts usually know how much of their usual dealer's heroin, cut to a particular purity to take to get high without dying. If they take the same dose of a more pure drug, they overdose. If they take what they think is heroin, but is actually fentanyl, they overdose.
Likewise, during alcohol prohibition, liquor containing methanol was a common risk for poisoning when drinking black market alcohol. Even the cheapest grain alcohol at a college liquor store today will not contain a dangerous amount of methanol. Legal heroin would reduce this kind of risk in the same way; it would contain what it says it contains, in the concentration on the label and would not contain other harmful substances.
I think this is one of the key insights. Although, thankfully, I think it's more than a binary choice (either a) legal or b) illegal).
Regulated legality combined with heavy restrictions on marketing and sustained support for rehab / support / education seems to me the best of all worlds. Still keep things accessible enough to cut out the motivation for the black market. But don't let the less scrupulous side of legal society run amok and actively exploit that.
Isn't this already possible in other countries? I would have thought this would already be possible in Portugal. 
Who do you expect will fund these treatment programs? I seriously doubt most addicts are equipped to pay for it.
You're talking about a country where a major political party actively works to remove funds from women's healthcare. 
I fully agree that these substances should be legalised for the reasons you mentioned, but I think it's laughable to think present-day politicians give a shit about these people. If anything, they'd probably face substantial lobby from police unions concerned legalisation would lead to job cuts.
Prosecuting and jailing drug addicts costs a lot of money. You could move that money to treatment.
The state should pay as part of the universal health care coverage IMO.
Treatment as a cost is cheap. Heroin would be next to nothing to purchase by a government. They can be tapered off or in very serious cases just maintained. When life is no longer 24x7 about finding your next fix, the person can live a relative useful and productive life. They do not need to steal, they do not need to commit crime to fund their habit. They do not need to go to prison where the cost per inmate exceeds by orders of magnitude the cost of treatment
Well hypothetically there is a ton of money being spent on the war on drugs if drugs were legal that money or even a small portion of it could do wonders for treatment programs.
You're making the assumption that their families have the resources to pay for their treatment. Nearly half of Americans are one pay cheque away from not being able to make ends meet.   
Here's a poverty map of America: http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2014/01/05/poverty-map/
Taxes on the drugs themselves would probably more than cover it.
And you seriously think politicians will use this new revenue source for the treatment of addicts?
I predict they'll push another tax cut that benefits their major donors.
I have no idea what they would spent the tax revenues on, other than a Strategic Doritos Stockpile, but it couldn't be any worse than the budget they are likely to pass this year.
It doesn't. It's partly an acknowledgement that, "It's really none of your business what people put in their own bodies."
You're implicitly saying, "I don't like the fact that you are addicted to X substance or action Y, so I think that gives me the moral justification to lock you in a literal cage for a very long time."
Legalizing drugs is about not putting people in jail for harming their own bodies and providing them with safer alternatives (IE, actual heroin instead of fentanyl, which is why we have this so-called "epidemic")
And for the record, never tried heroin, never will, it ruins lives. But I don't think we need to be putting people in jail for it. In fact, this only makes it worse.
Btw, ever wonder how much fentanyl it takes to kill you vs the amount of heroin? https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/29/fentanyl-heroin-photo-fa... That's what's driving the huge number of deaths from "heroin".
Fentanyl is definitely a problem, but you can't point just to potency and say "this is why". Fentanyl is much more potent than most other painkillers, but it's also more expensive.
5 patches of 12 hour release 25mcg/hr fentanyl will cost $145 on prescription, before any street markup. That's about half what you see in that vial there (assuming your recovery method is 100% effective, no-one cuts it, etc, etc).
I'm saying "If you cut a big bag of heroin with an amount of fentanyl in the correct ratio to not kill you, and shake it all up, you can't be very certain that the correct ratios are being evenly distributed. Therefore, when you split it all up into much smaller quantities, the ratio of fentanyl to heroin will vary." That's creating a situation where you really don't know what you're getting. I'm pointing to that as "this is what's driving heroin deaths".
What I'm saying is analogous to this:
Drug A requires 1kg to be lethal, and costs $100/kg.
Drug B requires 100g to be lethal, but costs $5,000/kg.
It doesn't _automatically_ follow that you can say that Drug B is more likely to be a problem on the street, because mass/volume is not the _only_ factor in safety.
But, it certainly is one, yes.
Addicts that are presently shooting up in basements and bathroom stalls and under bridges can go to a place where they can receive an injection of a known dosage under supervision of medical professionals.
I'm all for fighting addiction, but that's a complicated and expensive fight. Fighting the crime and fighting overdoses, equally destructive problems to addiction, are much simpler fixes: legalize it.
Increased healthcare spend: But why don't we draw a line for alcohol and tobacco? Or people eating too much? All of these are legally sanctioned choices people make. It gets into slippery territory when you start telling people what they can or can't do because of the burden they'll place on the healthcare system. Slippery territory that leads to the situation we currently have.
People stealing your tv: Spend less money on chasing and locking up drug users and more money on chasing and locking up burglars. Also, if we're just talking about simple economics here, the cost of supplying the entire world with high quality, low price drugs would not be terribly high. It's like, "How many homeless alcoholics are robbing homes because they can't find a drink?" That could be paired with a general public education campaign about the realities of drugs (I mean, Trainspotting and Leaving Las Vegas are kind of about the same thing right?)
So I deny that there are negative societal externalities. I'll make an exception for the fact that families pretty much literally lose loved ones to addiction, and that's a pretty big one, but I think it gets into the kind of territory of "do you owe your family anything?" I would say no, if you want to throw away your life to drugs, that's not the state's business.
And again, I'm really not advocating anyone start doing any of these things, I'm advocating that the state stop locking people up for doing them. In order for that to happen, it requires a certain amount of acceptance.
I think my particular stance is that the war on drugs is a massive failure that props up prices, lowers quality, and destroys the lives of many young non-violent "offenders." This is probably quite similar to your position, but I think the primary difference is that I would not advocate lifting the prohibition against drugs like heroin, which can supposedly turn a person into an addict within a few sessions.
I think my position is ultimately something like this:
Should the state lock someone up for using heroin? No, it's their money and their body.
Should the state lock someone up for using heroin and then committing a crime? Yes, because of the crime.
Would the legalization of heroin cause an increase in number of people committing crimes? Yes, because of its addictive potential and the extremely difficult/potentially fatal withdrawals.
Whether or not that would actually be the case, I can't say.
The taboo truth is people do drugs because they are fun, and people want the drugs that are fun to do, and don't have negative health consequences. Many drugs are relatively safe to do (in small quantities) (or at least moreso than things like skydiving), provided drug purity.
Drugs that seriously harm health, are by and large things that people either get suckered into via the black market, or are things people turn to when they do not have access to safer alternatives.
And many of the negative health consequences and horrors of drug use, come from unpure drug quality, which in turn is a result of the illegal nature of drugs.
Let me put it this way: If it were legal to buy a non-addictive opiod and heroin, nearly 100% of people would choose the opiod. Out of pure self interest, people wouldn't choose the addictive substance, given a safer alternative.
Similarly, if people could choose between pure mdma, and meth, meth would nearly cease to exist.
But if you decide to use an opiod today, you're going to get a mix of heroin and all sorts of awful junk that you're going to pump into your veins. And if you buy mdma today, there's a huge chance there's going to be a lot of meth in there. Etc, etc, etc
More similar than you'd think :)
I don't agree with this.
This is true for some cases, yes. But it's just as common if not more common for people to take drugs to mask pain. It's not about the drug being fun, but about the overwhelming pain of life being temporarily numbed.
Some drugs start off as fun before becoming something more severe. Others are never fun - they're just coping mechanisms.
Of course my views my be slight jaded by the BS programs like D.A.R.E spouted off during the 80s. "Drugs are bad" "Use drugs once and die" "This is your brain on drugs". This propaganda pretty much ended any realistic talk about legal and illegal drug use. Some drugs are fun. Some people have to cope with massive amounts of pain in their life. Others do drugs because of a genetic predisposition to addiction.
Now we're just left with a massive mess with bad outcomes for everybody.
Because of the iron law of prohibition, under prohibition, only the most potent, dangerous forms of the drug are available, so addicts use them, overdose, die, etc.
Look at the problems with lack of beer and wine during prohibition, and the availability of moonshine and methanol
A drug lord can sustain his business with high margins because of the high price however they couldn't compete against a major corporation producing the same thing even with a higher end tax rate if it was legal.
It's the reason why tobacco and alcohol markets are largely dominated by legitimate companies, economies of scale, distribution etc are all in favour of the legal entity (which isn't to say some tobacco and alcohol aren't sold without the tax, nothing is perfect).
So legalising drugs is a double whammy, you save a massive expenditure and the war on drugs and increase your tax revenue and force drug cartels into competing with legitimate businesses they simply can't compete with.
If I was doing it I'd ring fence the revenue from taxation into treatment and education and put the savings on enforcement either back into the general tax pot or shift the focus onto things like sex trafficking.
If nothing else the War on Drugs we have now simply isn't working, it has to be worth trying something else at this point.
What doesn't get reported with the same sensationalism is that fentanyl is actually used medically, quite successfully. My father had knee surgery a few years ago and was prescribed slow-release fentanyl patches. I'm hazy on the details, but I think it was something like 16ug released over 12 hours. It worked just fine.
I remember hearing recently about some fentanyl deaths in Vancouver that were traced back to a poorly manufactured batch of underground pills. The problem wasn't the average dose in the pills, it was that the fentanyl and filler and binder hadn't been mixed very well before being pressed. The result was that some of the pills had a bunch of fentanyl and some didn't.
While I'm not necessarily in favour of legalizing everything, being able to freely purchase pharmaceutical grade fentanyl pills would go a long way in preventing situations like this.
No one is doing fentanyl by choice.
People are doing fentanyl on accident because it's in the heroin they're buying on the street. This really drove it home for me: https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/29/fentanyl-heroin-photo-fa...
That being said, I still don't think we should put people in jail for using it. Fentanyl is known to kill you. So is rat poison. Buyer beware.
This is a different, adjacent issue. However, it's not impossible to make a case for allowing people to purchase lethal substances. On the contrary, there are compelling arguments that people should have the freedom to choose death rather than be forced to continue living.
When alcohol was illegal, we had gangsters like Al Capone. They built their empires and profited massively from illicit activity (not just smuggling but also violent crimes) at the expense of the American government and people. They also didn't pay a single dime in taxes despite all the profit they made.
The parallel to that is today's war on drugs and the drug lords it has given rise to.
The interior of the USA looks like post-Soviet-collapse Russia economically, and the way we've built cities and suburbs for the past 50 years has destroyed opportunities for beneficial community and social connection. Nothing will reduce addiction until those things are fixed. If heroin is unavailable people will go to prescription pills, alcohol, or even food, video games, etc.
Legalizing, taxing, and regulating drugs reduces crime, redirects money from criminals into law abiding enterprises and tax revenue that can be used to address the problems above, and allows the deployment of strategies to reduce the harm done by addiction.
You are right in your hunch that it makes treatment a much less taboo subject. The real difference in outcomes comes from treating it as a health issue and not a criminal violation.
It doesn't directly, but instead of ineffectively spending billions on law enforcement and incarceration you could use that money and the new tax revenue to fund treatment and prevention programs.
Legal opioids have caused massive addiction, and massive harm.
The drug war clearly isn't working, and all drugs should be legalised, but we need to recognise that legal drugs will cause harm.
The GP specifically said to "tax them and spend the money on rehab and education", so I assume he did recognize this.
I'm not sure how to overcome the fact that most people do not want to admit they need help or are not able to recognize it.
I am fairly libertarian on many things, but this is not a simple case of prohibition run amok. Heroin/opioid addiction is close to a loss of free will, aided by screw ups from big pharma and Government healthcare policies.
Really fascinating, sad, and difficult stuff.
And ignorant lawmakers who try to stigmatize instead of educate with regards to harm prevention, and the private prisons who would rather incarcerate addicts instead of rehabilitate them, and the willfully ignorant lawmakers who get kickbacks from those private prisons (and likely big pharma, who IMHO is willfully complicit in this epidemic).
The more recent big pharma position of "we never thought to ask why West Virginians are such good customers" deserves scorn, lawsuits, and prison time.
I'm glad the punishment for selling the drug is so high, often even sometimes receiving murder sentences for people that overdose but that isn't going to prevent people from buying / selling
I don't want to say that CPD has taken a blind eye to it, but, it seems that way.
I feel like the legalization of Marijuana years ago could have saved a lot of folks while helping them manage their pain. The Government found it easier to prosecute and jail people who struggled with chronic pain and mental illness than try to help. Now we have folks at the federal level who have never experienced an enlightened moment in their lives or have a shred of empathy for the sick. All they understand is how to help their friends in the Prison Industry, Law Enforcement and Pharma Industry.
None of this will really change until those in favour of dismantling what is mostly the mass incarceration of African Americans are willing to exercise sufficient political force to get people elected.
But whatever the case, there are some clear problems that need to be fixed:
1. End this regime of stigmatizing felons. Stripping them of the right to vote, the scarlet letter "are you a felon?" question on job applications and so on. At some point, having served their time, the stigma should be gone.
2. End mandatory drug sentencing.
3. National legalization of recreational cannabis use. The arguments against cannabis are pretty thin. The war on marijuana that began in the 1970s made marijuana harder to get and more expensive such that when crack cocaine came along it and heroin were both more readily accessible and cheaper, which is crazy.
4. Decriminalize drug possession and start treating it as a medical rather than legal problem.
5. This is tricky but tackle the over-prescription of opiates in the US. This can easily go wrong as some people really do need opiates. It's clear that overall they're over-prescribed however. A lot of people addicted to prescription drugs or heroin began with a legal prescription.
6. Raise the bar required for drug trafficking charges. It's ridiculous how low the requirement can be in some jurisdictions. For example, possession of more than 6 grams of pills in Florida IIRC allows a charge of possession with the intent to distribute. That's approximately 60 pills and the actual dosage doesn't matter (60 5mg Oxy pills are treated the same as 60 80mg Oxy pills). This is particularly hypocritical as Florida has essentially legalized the dealing in opiates through loosely-regulated "pain clinics".
7. This is also difficult but we need to end the plea bargain culture, which usually means overcharging by prosecutors to extract a plea. Judging prosecutors based on conviction rate seems to be at the heart of this problem.
I honestly wonder how many hard drug addicts could be avoided by simply having ready access to cannabis.
Invest all profits in the following:
1) Ensuring all children have an attuned attachment figure / parents have free (or even incentivized) training to learn how to attune emotionally.
2) Psychedelic therapy centers to help heal the underlying addiction along with support and integration.
3) Community gardens / organic food production & affordable housing.
Why outlaw marketing? If all drugs are legal and regulated, there should be no issue with advertising them like any other legal and regulated product. The US already allows advertising for pharmaceuticals, it should allow advertising for every other drug.
And why should drug companies have to invest their profits in the programs you describe? No one forces beer companies to invest all of their profits in Alcoholics Anonymous, or MacDonalds to invest in weight loss programs.
Your comment implies that you believe certain drugs would present a societal harm if legalized, and that extraordinary efforts should be taken to mitigate that damage. But if so, why legalize them to begin with?
I'd argue that the US is wrong in allowing for pharmaceuticals as it does. In the UK, advertising is allowed for OTC drugs, but not prescription drugs 
> Your comment implies that you believe certain drugs would present a societal harm if legalized, and that extraordinary efforts should be taken to mitigate that damage. But if so, why legalize them to begin with?
Tobacco usage is associated with massive societal harm, and in european countries has very specific controls. In the UK, you cannot smoke in many places, there is no tobacco advertising allowed, all packaging must be plain (from this saturday I believe), and there is minimum pricing in place. I personally believe that people should be allowed to smoke if they choose to, but there is no denying that these measures have had a massive impact on the number of people who regularly smoke. (as an anecdote, almost all of my friends parents smoke, whereas almost none of my friends do)
You can find billboards that make bottles of liquor look like royal treasure passed down from the gods. It's ultimately poison in a bottle. This kind of glorification of it hurts people who don't have the ability to enjoy it without consequence (i.e. millions of people in the U.S.).
On the other, alcohol use is highly cultural. In Italy, everybody drinks. A glass of wine or two with lunch and dinner is totally normal. Yet I never have seen a sauced Italian.
Compare it to the Brits, who drink like fish. In fact, the ancient Romans repeatedly tried and failed to replace the local binge drinking culture with their own casual Mediterranean cafe culture.
The reason Americans drink too much is simply because American culture values getting sauced. Even responsible adults remember their adolescent years with some fondness and so there isn't much of a cultural impetus to stop drinking or to drink less.
1. “The gov't isn’t/wasn’t able to competently police big pharma, so addiction will only get worse if we legalize drugs.”
2. “The gov’t is policing citizens too much, so addicts’ lives will get ruined if we don’t legalize drugs.”
I’d like everyone to consider the very real possibility that we’ll need to fix both problems before we reach a good place.
The vast majority of worldwide poppy for opiates is Asia, but the US is unique in that most of the poppy source for their heroin is coming from Columbia and Mexico. It is odd. Canada, for example, gets most of it's heroin via Afghanistan.
The size of the lines in this map from the above mentioned resource is relative to the actual production source...where the poppies are, and where they end up as heroin. Note the fat lines from the south, and the thin one from the east.
> The vast majority of worldwide poppy for opiates is Asia, but the US is unique in that most of the poppy source for their heroin is coming from Columbia and Mexico. It is odd.
I think this is a signal that Mexican cartels have monopolized American markets. Smaller unaffiliated players are more likely to use trans-Pacific supply chains.
It also seems that the cartels have vertically integrated their operations such that they now grow opium poppies and aren't reliant on South American countries for raw materials.
Why not apply this technology to completely eliminate Opioid plants?
P.S. I am sure there are many reasons why this won't work, but let's think big, okay?
First, opioids are actually really good when you don't abuse them. Just go break your leg and you'll see why.
Second, you are suffering from the sci-fy show "use space age technology yet still have modern problems" thing you see. If you can 'extinct' poppies, I can just as easily use CRISPR to stick those genes in anything else. It's not corn, it's my cash crop!
If you have supertechnology don't fix plants, fix people.
Eliminating would just punish those who don't make questionable life decisions.
If you're interested in the status of fentanyl and its derivatives, as well as the directions being explored for their pharmaceutical use, here's a well-written, chemistry-heavy article . Not paywalled.
I certainly dont want to sacrifice my quality of life for the profits of a drugs salesman
Let's have a war on smoking instead. I live in New York, and people think it's perfectly acceptable to light a cigarette while walking down the sidewalk and spew their fumes all over everyone walking behind them. Let's punish that like we'd punish them for punching random people on the sidewalk. Hey, if someone hits me and they're not a trained boxer, I'll probably feel fine a few minutes later, but that cancer smoke builds up over time.
Then we can move on to exhaust-producing vehicles, and so on...
Dropping the price further isn't going to make much difference.