Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Deaths from Black Tar Heroin

Whenever media stories report a surge of deaths from heroin use, it turns out that more potent heroin has recently arrived in a particular city or town.  For example, a recent L.A. Times headline reads

Black tar moves in, and death follows
and the story goes on to explain that

The death was part of a rash of overdoses, 12 of them fatal, that shook Huntington that fall and winter. All were caused by black-tar heroin, a potent, inexpensive, semi-processed form of the drug that has spread across the United States, driven by the entrepreneurial energy and marketing savvy of immigrants from a tiny farming county in Mexico.
These deaths are due to prohibition.  In a legal market, information about potency would be readily available, so few users would suffer these accidental overdoses.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree and, I suspect, Barry Goldwater would have as well.

Mike Huben said...

"In a legal market, information about potency would be readily available..."

In the legal and FDA-unregulated market for herbal supplements, information about potency is generally lacking or inaccurate according to any number of studies.

But I don't expect real-world information to affect delusions of libertopia.

"These deaths are due to prohibition."

No, these deaths are due to foolishness of inexperienced addicts. Self-administered drugs are risky for a wide variety of reasons, and even if the drugs were legal and their potency known, there would still be deaths. Recreational drug communities have many methods of making even illegal drug usage much safer, such as having a buddy available in case of a bad trip or an overdose.

Blaming prohibition for these deaths is like blaming guardrails for deaths. Without the guardrails, there would be many more deaths.

daksya said...

such as having a buddy available in case of a bad trip or an overdose.

An opiate overdose can be quickly reversed by the use of an opioid antagonist. But ODs can lead to death because the "buddies" don't call for help due to fear of arrest. You can chalk this up to prohibition. So far, New Mexico and Washington state have passed Good Samaritan laws allowing for limited immunity, but the others have not. So, prohibition absolutely plays a part in this. But the broader point is that inexperienced addicts wouldn't be subject to trial & error in a world with legal and acknowledged drug use. Also, many legalizers support regulated legalization, not a laissez-faire variant. Most of us know the deal with herbal supplements. The dealers want to sell them as medicine. But the FDA can't endorse them as medicine without the standard scrutiny of trials, so the trade exist in this straitjacketed grey area. Recreational drugs, if they're legalized, will hopefully be handled by a separate agency, probably a spin-off of the ATF or whatever it's called nowadays.

Anonymous said...

It's all price, stupid.

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