August 22, 2014

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‘We’re all paying:’ Heroin spreads misery in US

 

Former heroin addict David Fitzgerald sits outside the rehabilitation clinic where he works in Portland, Ore. Fitzgerald knows that many of the clients he sees at 25 may be back in rehab at 35, but he tries to remain optimistic that some of what they learn at Central City will, ultimately, make a difference. "That's about all you can do," he says, "hope some of it sticks." (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Former heroin addict David Fitzgerald sits outside the rehabilitation clinic where he works in Portland, Ore. Fitzgerald knows that many of the clients he sees at 25 may be back in rehab at 35, but he tries to remain optimistic that some of what they learn at Central City will, ultimately, make a difference. “That’s about all you can do,” he says, “hope some of it sticks.” (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

On a beautiful Sunday last October, Detective Dan Douglas stood in a suburban Minnesota home and looked down at a lifeless 20-year-old — a needle mark in his arm, a syringe in his pocket. It didn’t take long for Douglas to realize that the man, fresh out of treatment, was his second heroin overdose that day.

“You just drive away and go, ‘Well, here we go again,’” says the veteran cop.

In Butler County, Ohio, heroin overdose calls are so common that the longtime EMS coordinator likens the situation to “coming in and eating breakfast — you just kind of expect it to occur.” A local rehab facility has a six-month wait. One school recently referred an 11-year-old boy who was shooting up intravenously.

This photo released on Dec. 20 by the Massachusetts State Police shows some of the 1,250 packets of heroin labeled "Obamacare" and "Kurt Cobain" which state police troopers confiscated during a traffic stop in Hatfield, Mass. Four people were charged with heroin trafficking. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police)

This photo released on Dec. 20 by the Massachusetts State Police shows some of the 1,250 packets of heroin labeled “Obamacare” and “Kurt Cobain” which state police troopers confiscated during a traffic stop in Hatfield, Mass. Four people were charged with heroin trafficking. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police)

Sheriff Richard Jones has seen crack, methamphetamine and pills plague his southwestern Ohio community but says heroin is a bigger scourge. Children have been forced into foster care because of addicted parents; shoplifting rings have formed to raise money to buy fixes.

“There are so many residual effects,” he says. “And we’re all paying for it.”

Heroin is spreading its misery across America. And communities everywhere are indeed paying.

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman spotlighted the reality that heroin is no longer limited to the back alleys of American life. Once mainly a city phenomenon, the drug has spread — gripping postcard villages in Vermont, middle-class enclaves outside Chicago, the sleek urban core of Portland, Ore., and places in between and beyond.

It remains a small part of America’s drug problem; cocaine, Ecstasy, painkillers and tranquilizers are all used more, and the latest federal overdose statistics show that in 2010 the vast majority of drug overdose deaths involved pharmaceuticals, with heroin accounting for less than 10 percent.

But heroin’s escalation is troubling. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the 45 percent increase in heroin overdose deaths between 2006 and 2010 an “urgent and growing public health crisis.”

In 2007, there were an estimated 373,000 heroin users in the U.S. By 2012, the number was 669,000, with the greatest increases among those 18 to 25. First-time users nearly doubled in a six-year period ending in 2012, from 90,000 to 156,000.

The surge is easily explained. Experts note that many users turned to heroin after a crackdown on prescription drug “pill mills” made painkillers such as OxyContin harder to find and more costly. Whereas a gram of prescription opiates may go for $1,000 on the street, that same gram of heroin will sell for $100, authorities say.

It’s killing because it can be extremely pure or laced with other powerful narcotics. That, coupled with a low tolerance once people start using again after treatment, is catching addicts off guard.

In hard-hit places, police, doctors, parents and former users are struggling to find solutions and save lives.

“I thought my suburban, middle-class family was immune to drugs such as this,” says Valerie Pap, who lost her son, Tanner, to heroin in 2012 in Anoka County, Minn., and speaks out to try and help others. “I’ve come to realize that we are not immune. … Heroin will welcome anyone into its grasp.”

IN MINNESOTA: TAKING THE MESSAGE TO THE MASSES

The night before Valentine’s Day, some 250 people filed into a Baptist church in Spring Lake Park, Minn., a bedroom community north of Minneapolis that brags of its “small-town charm and friendly folks.” There were moms and dads of addicts, as well as children whose parents brought them in hopes of scaring them away from smack.

n this Feb. 13, 2014 photo, Anoka County Sheriff's Detective Dan Douglas talks about the dangers of heroin during a community forum at Eagle Brook Church in Spring Lake Park, Minn. (AP Photo/Amy Forliti)

n this Feb. 13, 2014 photo, Anoka County Sheriff’s Detective Dan Douglas talks about the dangers of heroin during a community forum at Eagle Brook Church in Spring Lake Park, Minn. (AP Photo/Amy Forliti)

From the stage, Dan Douglas gripped a microphone as a photograph appeared overhead on a screen: A woman in the fetal position on a bathroom floor. Then another: A woman “on the nod” — passed out with drug paraphernalia and a shoe near her face.

Douglas didn’t mince words. “You just don’t win with heroin,” he declared. “You die or you go to jail.”

It was the third such forum held over two weeks in Anoka County, which encompasses 440 square miles of urban neighborhoods, rural homesteads and suburban centers that are home to nearly 340,000 souls. Since 1999, 55 Anoka County residents have died from heroin-related causes. Only one other Minnesota county reported more heroin-related deaths — 58 — and it has a population three-and-a-half times greater than Anoka’s.

In 2009, when Douglas began supervising a drug task force, authorities were focused on stamping out meth labs. Heroin, with its dark and dirty image, just wasn’t a concern. Then investigators noticed a climb in pharmacy robberies and started finding Percocet and OxyContin during routine marijuana busts.

As prescription drug abuse rose, so, too, did federal and state crackdowns aimed at shutting down pill mills and increasing tracking of prescriptions and pharmacy-hopping pill seekers. Users turned to heroin.

“It hit us in the face in the form of dead bodies,” says Douglas. “We didn’t know how bad it was until it was too late here in our community.”

Douglas says authorities are doing what they can: educating doctors about the dangers of overprescribing painkillers, holding events where residents can dispose of prescription opiates, and aggressively trying to get drugs off the street. But, he says, “law enforcement cannot do this alone.”

The idea for the forums came not from police but rather from Pap, a third-grade teacher whose youngest son died of a heroin overdose.

Tanner was an athlete who graduated from high school with honors. In the fall of 2012, he was pursuing a psychology degree at the University of Minnesota, and dreamed of becoming a drug counselor. He had not, to his mother’s knowledge, ever used drugs, and certainly not heroin.

Then one day Tanner’s roommates found the 21-year-old unconscious in his bedroom.

Amid her grief, Pap realized something needed to be done to educate others. She met with county officials, and the community forums began soon after. At each, Pap shared her family’s story.

“Our lives have been forever changed. Heroin took it all away,” she told the crowd in Spring Lake Park.

Douglas says most heroin-related deaths he has seen involve victims who struggled with the drug for years. The detective usually tries to shield his own boys, ages 7 and 11, from what he sees on the job. But after meeting parents like Pap, Douglas shared his heroin presentation with his oldest son, complete with the sobering pictures.

“Could I still be blindsided? Absolutely,” he says. “But it’s not going to be for lack of information on my part. … I don’t want to scare my kid. I don’t want to scar my kid. But I sure as hell don’t want to bury him.”

IN OHIO: OD ANTIDOTE HELPS SAVE SOME

Brakes screech. The hospital door flies open. A panicked voice shouts: “Help my friend!” Medical technicians race outside with a gurney. An unconscious young man is lifted aboard, and the race is on to stop another heroin user from dying.

It’s known as a “drive-up, drop-off,” and it’s happened repeatedly at Ohio’s Fort Hamilton Hospital. The staff’s quick response and a dose of naloxone, an opiate-reversing drug, bring most patients back. But not all. Some are put on ventilators. A few never revive.

Dr. Marcus Romanello, medical director for the Fort Hamilton Hospital emergency room, checks equipment in the emergency room of the hospital in Hamilton, Ohio. The hospital saw 200 heroin overdose cases last year, and countless related problems. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Dr. Marcus Romanello, medical director for the Fort Hamilton Hospital emergency room, checks equipment in the emergency room of the hospital in Hamilton, Ohio. The hospital saw 200 heroin overdose cases last year, and countless related problems. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

“We’ve certainly had our share of deaths,” says Dr. Marcus Romanello, head of the ER. “At least five died that I am acutely aware of … because I personally cared for them.”

Romanello joined the hospital about two years ago, just as the rise of heroin was becoming noticeable in Hamilton, a blue-collar city of 60,000 people. Now it seems to be reaching into nearly every part of daily life.

“If you stood next to somebody and just started a conversation about heroin, you’d hear: ‘Oh yeah, my nephew’s on heroin. My next-door neighbor’s on heroin. My daughter’s on heroin,’” says Candy Murray Abbott, who helped her own 27-year-old son through withdrawal.

Abbott and childhood friend Tammie Norris, whose daughter was also a heroin user, decided last year to bring attention to the problem in their hometown, using Facebook to organize poster-waving demonstrations by everyone from recovering addicts to parents and grandparents of children who died of overdoses.

Norris could only shake her head at the surge in attention to heroin after Hoffman’s death. “Well, duh,” she says, “it’s been happening to our kids every day — and nobody sees it.”

A couple decades ago, the big problem in Hamilton was cocaine. That shifted to prescription drug abuse, which morphed into heroin as pharmaceuticals grew harder to come by. Now heroin-related deaths have more than tripled in Butler County, where Hamilton is the county seat. There were 55 deaths last year, and within one two-week period, the city’s emergency paramedic units responded to 18 heroin overdoses. Once, they had five overdose runs in a single day.

A drug addict prepares a needle to inject himself with heroin in front of a church in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A drug addict prepares a needle to inject himself with heroin in front of a church in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Users run the gamut, says EMS veteran Jennifer Mason — from streetwalkers to business executives. They die in cars, public parks, restaurant bathrooms, a university building. Mason has found people turning blue with needles still in their arms.

Sojourner Recovery Services, an addiction treatment organization in Hamilton, has a six-month waiting list for beds for male addicts.

Romanello’s hospital saw 200 heroin overdose cases last year, and countless related problems: abscesses from using unsterile needles, heart-damaging endocarditis and potentially fatal sepsis infections.

Overdose patients usually bounce back quickly after given naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan. It works by blocking the brain receptors that opiates latch onto and helping the body “remember” to take in air.

At least 17 states and the District of Columbia allow Narcan to be distributed to the public, and bills are pending in some states to increase access to it. Attorney General Holder has called for more first responders to carry it. Last month, Ohio’s Republican governor signed into law a measure allowing a user’s friends or relatives to administer Narcan, on condition that they call 911.

Romanello says his patients are usually relieved and grateful by the time they leave his hospital. “They say, ‘Thank you for saving my life,’ and walk out the door. But then, the withdrawal symptoms start to kick in.”

“You would think that stopping breathing is hitting rock bottom,” adds Mason. “They don’t have that fear of dying. You’ve blocked the heroin, and they have to have it. They go back out to get more. You haven’t fixed their addiction.”

IN OREGON: A FORMER ADDICT FIGHTS BACK

Before 9 o’clock every weekday morning, the secret to one of the most successful drug rehabilitation clinics in Portland, Ore., waits behind a locked door. Meet David Fitzgerald, leader of the mentor program at Central City Concern, which claims a 60 percent success rate for treating heroin addiction.

The lock, Fitzgerald says, is a necessity because his addicts will take every opportunity offered, including early access to the “mentor room.”

Former heroin addict David Fitzgerald sits in his office in Portland, Ore. The photos on the wall include a collage from the previous year's group picnic.  Recovering addicts smile and hold plates of food. Seven months later, Fitzgerald looks over the faces. Are they all still sober? Are they all still alive? "Most of them," he says. "Not all." (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Former heroin addict David Fitzgerald sits in his office in Portland, Ore. The photos on the wall include a collage from the previous year’s group picnic. Recovering addicts smile and hold plates of food. Seven months later, Fitzgerald looks over the faces. Are they all still sober? Are they all still alive? “Most of them,” he says. “Not all.” (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Inside, the walls are covered in photos, including a collage from last year’s group picnic. Recovering addicts smile and hold plates of food. Seven months later, Fitzgerald looks over the faces. Are they all still sober? Are they all still alive?

“Most of them,” he says. “Not all.”

Heroin cut a gash through the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s. Then prescription pills took over until prices rose. Now the percentage of those in treatment for heroin in Oregon is back up to levels not seen since the ’90s — nearly 8,000 people last year — and the addicts are getting younger.

Central City’s clients reflect that. In 2008, 25 percent of them were younger than 35. Last year that went to 40 percent.

“A lot of them aren’t ready at a younger age,” Fitzgerald says. “The drug scene, it’s fast … it’s different. It’s harder than it was.”

Fitzgerald, 63, speaks with a laconic prison patois, a reflection of 20-plus years incarcerated, all the while addicted to various drugs. The worst was heroin. In 1997 he got sober, and in 1999 he joined Central City Concern, then a burgeoning outfit.

Fitzgerald saw that the usual path for treating addiction wasn’t working. Addicts were processed through detox for seven or eight days, then handed a list of tasks that included finding work, meeting with a probation officer, and locating the drop site for their daily food box.

“Like they’re going to do any of that,” Fitzgerald scoffs. “First thing they do is see somebody they know, get that fix.”

Central City Concern instead accompanies clients to housing appointments, keeps their daylight hours filled with to-dos and requires they spend idle hours at the facility, where they also sleep.

It’s a bare-bones staff operating on a razor-thin budget, and the crop of younger addicts presents a new problem: finding appropriately aged mentors to match them with. But Fitzgerald has hope in 26-year-old Felecia Padgett, who remembers clearly the first time she fired heroin into her veins.

“I heard one time somebody say it’s like kissing God,” says Padgett. “It is. It’s like getting to touch heaven.”

Padgett’s six-year tumble involved, in order: heroin smoked, heroin shot intravenously, homelessness, one overdose, two close calls, a suicide attempt, arrest, jail, arrest, jail, arrest, jail and, finally, a one-shot, last-chance stop at Central City.

Before sobriety, she found herself selling to people younger than herself, suburban kids rolling up in their parents’ cars.

Fitzgerald doesn’t yet have money to pay her, and Padgett herself is still in recovery. But she, and others like her, may play a crucial role in confronting the problem as the face of Portland’s heroin addiction gets younger.

Fitzgerald knows that many of the clients he sees at 25 may be back in rehab at 35, but he tries to remain optimistic that some of what they learn at Central City will, ultimately, make a difference.

“That’s about all you can do,” he says, “hope some of it sticks.”

Ohio’s heroin problem at a glance

In and around Cleveland, heroin-related overdoses killed 195 people last year, shattering the previous record. Some Ohio police chiefs say heroin is easier for kids to get than beer.

The number of heroin-related overdose deaths went to 426 in 2011, up from 338 the previous year, part of a trend that police and counseling agencies have been warning about for several years. In 2004, 5.8 percent of Ohio drug users named heroin as their drug of choice; that rose to 12.5 percent in 2011.

 

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    They choose to start…

    They also choose the time of when they’ve “had enough”.

    Simple.

    • Phil Blank

      The problem is they never can get enough!
      Its an addictive drug, did you miss that?

  • SniperFire

    Time for that ‘stop whining part deux’ guy to come along and tell us that heroin should be legal and available at any carry out or drive thru window in America.

    • jz

      LEAP does not advocate that approach. Don’t put words in my mouth. The LEAP and Drug Policy Alliance recommend a medical approach, a totally medical model with harm reduction goals. Too much to go into here, but, it takes someone with more mental acuity and insight than a name caller and who over simplifies a serious social issue If you have been to the LEAP site you can read all about it. These are people who do more than post on this site. They travel the country and world advocating what I “whine” about, and have allies all around the globe doctors, cops and ex cops etc How is that for some whining. OK, I,ll stoop. Mental midget.

      • SniperFire

        Don’t think you are the poster in question, but from your rambling deflection you perhaps changed your name. So let me ask you (warning, non-response coming):

        Should heroin be available for consumption at any carry-out in America, or not? A simple yes or no would suffice. LOL

        • jz

          No.

      • Jeff

        ignore sniperfire . the only thing that comes out of his mouth is cow farts.

    • jz

      Just read some of your other comments. Enough said.

    • Phil Blank

      Some countries in Europe have tried that.

      • mh1492

        Portugal has decriminalize all drugs, it’s still illegal to sell, since 2002 (not absolutely sure about the date). It’s worked.

        • Pablo Jones

          Their unemployment rate was holding steady through 2002, but since then has been increasing.

          • SniperFire

            Around 16% unemployed. Why work when you can be stoned and on welfare?

  • turd

    You miss the part where 98% of them start off on legal heroin known as oxycontins then move onto heroin.

    • Pablo Jones

      But 100% of them started on milk when they were babies. It is the gateway to all drugs.

    • Brian_Reinhardt

      Your comment is absurd.

      Marihuana is the leading stepping stone to heroin as proved in dozens of studies by medical and law enforcement officials.

      Once you take that illegal step to purchase weed it’s nothing to take it a step further to heroin.

      • Mark B

        But to the contrary , before anyone steps on that stone to Weed , it all starts with Alcohol.

      • Reagan

        One of the biggest and most widespread arguments from marijuana
        detractors is that smoking marijuana will lead to using other drugs. As Scientific American points out,
        the studies that show people who use marijuana first before trying
        other drugs is correlation and not causation. People who go on to use
        harder drugs also tend to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol before
        trying the other substances plus with with our current stigma on pot
        only people who are predisposed to being a “outlaw drug user” are going
        to smoke pot. On top of all of this, as mentioned above, nearly half the
        country has already tried pot which is more than how many Americans know who Jennifer Lawrence is and much much more than the percentage of Americans who are left-handed.

        • Brian_Reinhardt

          The “causation” is the illegality of the act. Once you cross that line to purchase pot, it’s nothing to cross it again to purchase heroin.

          Once you have developed a dealer network with pot, it just becomes that much easier to do it for heroin.

          And those of you who think making pot legal is going to stop the problem, think again because even when legal there will be those who sell it illegally.

          • Reagan

            The point is that is it is absurd to think that cannabis use leads to heroin use. If this were the case there would be a much higher percentage of heroin addicts.

          • Brian_Reinhardt

            Then you my friend have no clue how many people use it.

          • Reagan

            Enlighten me. How many?

          • mh1492

            Moonshine’s illegal too.

            As for your pot argument, it boils down to:

            It is illegal therefore it’s evil. Why is it illegal? Because it’s evil.

          • jz

            Again, simple minded. Alcohol is legal, and what percentage are alcoholics? Legal or illegal?

          • Jennifer Williams

            How many people did you lose to marijuana Over Dose? Not a single person do I know. And I have a lot of friends who have smoked weed that did not Choose to shoot up or snort anything else. I do have a brother that did but he did not choose to do heroin because of what he got from weed. He chose to do heroin because he wanted something to get rid of what ever demons he had. He has now chosen to be clean for 5 years and run a sobriety home. I bet if I called him he would never blame their use from marijuana use either. Get a clue. Did you shoot up after your first joint? Do not say you haven’t smoked? Kettle+ Pot= Black!

        • Jennifer Williams

          How many people did you lose to marijuana Over Dose? Not a single person do I know. And I have a lot of friends who have smoked weed that did not Choose to shoot up or snort anything else. I do have a brother that did but he did not choose to do heroin because of what he got from weed. He chose to do heroin because he wanted something to get rid of what ever demons he had. He has no chosen to be clean for 5 years and run a sobriety home. I bet if I called him he would never blame their use from marijuana use either. Get a clue. Did you shoot up after your first joint? Do not say you haven’t smoked? Kettle+ Pot= Black!

          • Reagan

            Is your comment directed at me? If so I agree with you. I have been a cannabis user for 35 years and in all that time I have never once wanted to or desired to use heroin or any other hard drugs. Hell I won’t even use aspirin. But I will admit I love my beer and bourbon.

          • Jennifer Williams

            No it was supposed to go to Brian Reinhardt. I am so sorry I do not know why it posted to you! Sorry!

      • Phil Blank

        Flawed studies from back before any of us were even born!
        You are referring to the old 1936 “Reefer Madness” propaganda film:
        youtu.be/Azf320JDdqU

        Even Wikipedia has info on it: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_Madness

      • jz

        Simple minded. 99 percent of people who smoked weed never became drug addicts. 99 percent of drug addicts probably began with alcohol then weed. Common sense tells me that some people like what alters the way they feel too much. They are more vunerable to abuse than use. 85 percent of people who take pain meds do not graduate to abuse or heroin. Addictive yes. but it is the smallest percentage that make the news and hurt themselves and others because what is a health problem, not a law enforcement problem.

  • Patty Siniard Doman

    I’ve lost so any loved ones to drugs ,I pray for those struggling with addiction and their families .

    • Jennifer Williams

      I have a few too. But I cannot count that one of them was a marijuana overdose.

  • LorainCountyVoter

    I agree with Brian.

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Thinning of the herd.

  • Phil Blank

    Its not just in Ohio, its all across the USA and in other countries as well!
    The problem is not just in Vermont, its everywhere!

    And that fool that cut the heroin with Fentanyl and killed people, he only got 2 years in prison?

    Rolling stone article on Vermont heroin problem that is 10-12 pages long!

    After that an article from the Minneapolis, Star Tribune:
    “Heroin laced with powerful prescription drug fentanyl causing fatal overdoses”

    The New Face of Heroin | ARTICLE
    April 3, 2014 9:00 AM ET
    Eve Rivait rode her first horse when she was five too small to get her feet through the stirrups let alone give the animal a kick that registered Yet even then bouncing in the saddle she was…
    http://www.rollingstone.com/search?q=Vermont+heroin&x=0&y=0#ixzz2y8PARXTf

    Heroin laced with powerful prescription drug fentanyl causing fatal overdoses
    http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/253928921.html

    • SniperFire

      ‘And that fool that cut the heroin with Fentanyl and killed people, he only got 2 years in prison?’

      Firing squads would cut down on this sort of thing quite drastically.

  • SpaceTech

    Drug addicts being killed by the drugs they abuse………….sounds like a self resolving problem.
    Start dealing out death sentences to the drug dealers and that might put a dent in the problem.

    • Mark B

      So should we also give a death sentence to the DR’s that are over prescribing Pain Meds ?

      • SniperFire

        Not a bad idea, but that is a matter of malpractice if not done so with criminal intent. Surprised the personal injury lawyers aren’t flocking to this arena.

  • BroDelish5566

    No mention of Drs. or pharmaceutical companies that make the pain killers that people get hooked on then leads to heroin abuse. Marijuana does not lead to this. Wake up and smell the coffee. Should put the Drs. pharmas and pharmas reps away. Heroin deaths have overtaken homicides and drunk driving deaths in Ohio. All from Drs. and Pharmas overprescribing these drugs that people are getting hooked on.

  • elvis

    the controlled availability (illegality) of drugs of abuse has done nothing since the modern war on drugs started in 1970, availability has remained a constant. Some drugs rise and fall in popularity as in methamphetamine/ heroin.

    The US economy rose to be the biggest in the world after ww2 despite widespread easily available amphetamines.
    1)ridiculous drug laws bread contempt for ALL laws

    2) in order to really get at the gangster element, use “harm reduction” and treat addiction for what it is a social problem

    • Brian_Reinhardt

      No we need to “treat” dealing and using for what they are…crimes.

      Make the punishment so severe that it no longer becomes a question for many people.

      Most addicts tell you that they only get help when they hit “rock bottom”. Let’s help them get there much quicker.

      • elvis

        thats right 40 years of tuff on “crime” has worked do well lets just execute people because jail will cost an awfull lot

        • Mark B

          Portugal legalized all drugs and took the money they spent on criminally enforcing drugs and put that money towards treatment and miraculously there drug addictions are down by 50% . How could that be? The definition of Insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again hoping for different results. Prohibition in America has failed , its time for a different method, it is clear the current model is not working. But that is only if we really want to help society with a drug problem , or if we just want to continue to fund the prison system .

      • jz

        Totally impractical. Knee jerk. Has not worked. Countries where most of the largest shipments come from make our drug laws look non existent. But the drugs keep flowing. Simple supply and demand. Too much profit. Alcohol Prohibition, remember that? You do not even make a point worth intellectual consideration.

        • SniperFire

          ‘Totally impractical. Knee jerk. Has not worked.’

          Sure it works. The punishment is not severe enough, as the poster stated. It is common sense, which Libertarians and Liberals have none of.

          • jz

            Big big difference between liberals and libertarians. Look up libertarian and don’t just read for 5 minutes. They are more conservative than conservatives if you understand their platform. I beg to differ. The get tougher approach never worked. Look at Mexico after they instituted the military in fighting the cartels Violence skyrocketed past what it already was.Since Rico has drug use or abuse gotten less or more. There is a Judge on the LEAP site that analogizes that if he could manufacture a pen for one dollar and sell it 1,000 you can’t stop that. Drugs will still flow. Just study the LEAP site for 20 minutes. Try another outlook. If not then we will agree to disagree.

          • SniperFire

            ‘Big big difference between liberals and libertarians.’

            Not really. Libertarians are less moral and even less practical. But it was actually tried as a way of running things once. Ever see the series ‘Deadwood’? LOL

          • jz

            Afterthought. I understand how one can strongly favor your argument. Hard drugs no doubt have wreaked havoc in too many peoples lives and the people who sell, especially these fentanyl dudes, are bad actors. But, they try to get the bigger dealers and as far as we know the guy who got 2 years may have cooperated and ratted out the people higher up than him. Without those plea bargains they would never work their way up to the bigger suppliers. At the federal level we assume they are getting the bigger dealers. Mandatory minimums and the drugs are cheaper and higher quality than years ago and still flowing. Why not try a medical approach, and the black market and ancillary crimes would go down drastically. There will always be black markets to some degree. The get tougher approach has just made things more violent.

  • ekwaykway

    Raise taxes to build more prisons, hire more guards, buy more police to catch them, etc.

  • Brandy Lynn

    Eleven years old???? Seriously. Any parent can stop an 11 year old from doing heroin. That shouldn’t even be a thought in a childs head.