About . . . . . . Classes . . . . . . Books . . . . . . Vita . . . . . . . Links. . . . . . Blog

by Peter Moskos

May 26, 2010

Stupid Drug Story of the Week

I read this stupid AP story and it set off warning bells in my head.

"ULTRA-POTENT HEROIN... MEXICAN DEALERS... $10 BAGS KILL UNSUSPECTING USERS INSTANTLY... NEEDLES STILL IN ARM AT THE DEATH SCENE!!!"

OK, the caps and exclamation points are mine, but you get the idea. It's a little strange because people who die from heroin overdoses rarely suspect it and often have needles in the arms. [I'm saying this in the most patronizing tone I can muster:] That's why it's called an accidental drug overdose and not a suicide.

But I couldn't articulate the bells in my head (they can are particularly unhelpful that way) until Jack Shafer of Slate wrote his response.

One constant prohibitionist line of argument is that drugs these days aren't like the drugs you were safely taking when you were a kid (the strange subtext being that it would have been OK to legalize drugs back then... but now they're too dangerous to regulate).

I love how Shafer points out that the AP story (headlined "Deadly, Ultra-pure Heroin Arrives in the US") seems to ignore not one or two but 19 AP stories over the past 25 years that all herald basically the same thing.

[It is, of course, particularly ironic to use the risk of dying from an overdose as an argument in favor of prohibition. The one sure thing we know would come from legal and regulated drugs is a guarantee of consistent purity. Heroin overdose deaths could drop to near zero if users actually knew how much they were taking. It really is that simple. But to get there we would have care more about the lives of heroin users more than we care about "sending a message."]

1 comment:

qintuq said...

Check out Matt Harvey of the New York Press