If there’s one thing that Americans from all walks of life can agree with, it’s our national love affair with opiates. From fancy oxycontin pills to grimy packets of heroin, the U.S. is consuming opioid-based narcotics at an alarming rate. Things have gotten so bad, that Attorney General Eric Holder is urging first responders to stock up on naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of heroin overdoses, which he says have increased by 45 percent between 2006 and 2010. In the latter year, there was over 16,600 deaths from opiate toxicity. Holder also warned about the sharp uptick in the amount of heroin busts from 2008 to 2013 along the the Mexican border.
Despite this disturbing trend, both the DEA and ONDCP refuse to admit that heroin, a drug that kills people if they take too much, is more dangerous than weed, a drug that doesn’t kill anyone no matter how much they take.
Although cannabis policy is usually dictated by emotion and gut feelings, this new direction for opiate harm reduction is based on empirical evidence.
“Scientific studies, federal, state and local investigations, addiction treatment providers, and victims reveal that the cycle of heroin abuse commonly begins with prescription opiate abuse,” said Holder. “The transition to — and increase in — heroin abuse is a sad but not unpredictable symptom of the significant increase in prescription drug abuse we’ve seen over the past decade.”
That’s also roughly the amount of time the U.S. has occupied Afghanistan which is still the world’s leading producer of opiates–despite billions spent to eradicate it and the robust American military presence there. But surely that’s just a coincidence.