What Happens When Heroin Comes To You?
Rising heroin use in many conservative states have caused House Republicans to ease longstanding opposition to federal funding in support of needle exchange programs. The House bill taking shape now would still bar federal dollars from buying sterile needles or syringes, but officials could use federal grant money to provide support for state and local drug treatment programs that include needle exchanges. An outbreak of AIDS and hepatitis tied to heroin and other drug use in states like Indiana and Kentucky led conservative public officials in those states to reverse themselves and allow needle exchange programs as a way to combat the spread of disease and bring drug users into treatment programs.
There was no better way to exponentially grow the drug “problem” than through prohibition. The almost 50 year old War on Drugs is the descendant of the ten year war on alcohol from the 1920’s. Neither satisfied their parents expectations. In fact, legal alcohol remains a destructive product that dwarfs in magnitude the destruction to society of heroin or any other illicit drug.
Who Still Wants It?
Does anyone, outside of law enforcement and politicians, still support the “War On Drugs”? This isn’t about needle exchange programs but a last ditch effort to preserve the status quo on marijuana, listed on the Schedule I list along with LSD, and meth for no reason but politics. Instead of legalizing drug use and attacking addiction, it’s better for some to keep the drug issue alive to preserve the control it gives through keeping prison beds occupied and the criminal justice system fully employed.
The 14 year experiment in Portugal, where exasperated citizens finally decided to treat the situation not as criminal in nature but offer medical assistance, is clearly working but we already know that is the solution. Both Democrats and Republicans have used the issue for decades. Democrats have done nothing towards legalization though they have talked about it, and Republicans enjoy keeping the masses believing that if we lock up more people and spend more dollars we don’t have, the problem will be solved.
Approval or disapproval of drugs not withstanding, there exists no constitutional provision that authorizes criminalizing their use. President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 that “regulates” specific agents based on the degree of addictiveness enforced by the FDA and DEA which were also created by that act. Thus a drug, in and of itself is not illegal, rather its possession and distribution can be. Convictions are for those two considerations. Corporations and the military have their own standards for usage.
The most important thing to understand about the Constitution is its scope and magnitude. It was and is a framework for governance at the federal level only. It rests on the concept of local rule. It’s silence on matters should not be construed as consent nor disapproval. The Founders thought states and localities knew best how to govern themselves in matters such as what we ingest and consume. The Federal War on Drugs is bad mmmmmkay? How about we end it and start actually helping people? It shouldn’t take spikes in AIDS and Hepatitis to do so.