Monday, October 10, 2005

Not your father's heroin - boomers ODs increasing

This is not a surprise.
Californians age 40 and older are dying of drug overdoses at double the rate recorded in 1990. In 2003, the latest year for which the state has figures, a record 3,691 drug users died, up 73% since 1990. The total surpassed deaths from firearms, homicides and AIDS.

Remarkably, the rate of deadly overdoses among younger users over that period has slightly declined, while the rate among those 40 and older has jumped from 8.6 to 17.3 per hundred thousand people.
Tellingly, this is also the same time frame during which the War on Some Drugs was escalated. For all the ONDCP's focus on the dangerous "it's not your father's marijuana" plant, the truth is for all the billions they have spent on eradication and incarceration, the only tangible result was purer chemical drugs on the street.

Ironically the black market for drugs is the only free market system that works in application because the government doesn't control it . When they first increased the penalites, the prices rose as dealers passed on the increased costs of security to the consumer. The higher profits drew a lot more dealers into the market. Eventually the price hit the limit of consumer tolerance and the supply, because of the increase in marketers, increased to the point where competition drove the price down and the purity up.

Since the market is not regulated, there's no quality control. You get "hot" batches hitting the street, so people OD inadvertently from an either an especially pure or unusally toxic shipment. Then there are the hard core addicts who end up in jail and don't realize how low their tolerance is when they get out and OD the first time they use after they're released.

Meanwhile, in all the statistics, one can't fail to note that there is not a single recorded case of an overdose caused by that "dangerous drug" marijuana. Our government spends billions every year on the criminalization of this plant and the persecution of chemical drug addicts. It hasn't changed a thing in 80 years except for the drug of choice.

The social and financial costs are mounting to unsustainable levels. Something has got to give. One hopes it will be the stubborn insistence on prohibition as a model for drug control.


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