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each year in interdiction efforts. Nevertheless, in 2004, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported about 166,000 heroin users in the United States, out of more than 19 million people age 12 and over who reported using an illicit drug within the past month (SAMSHA report, section 1.

4). Chronic heroin users may resort to stealing, prostitution and other crimes to pay for their habit. New users turn to snorting and smoking the drug, giving them less of a high but also carrying less of a stigma and avoiding the telltale track marks. The tenacity of heroin’s hold on humanity begs the question: Would the United States be better off if heroin — or some form of poppy-derived opiate — were legalized Would it be best to let the government, or approved non-governmental organizations and charities, handle maintenance and long-term treatment of heroin users, with the goal of curing them of their addiction The experience in other countries, coupled with medical evidence, shows that it is certainly worth exploring some form of legalization that removes the criminal profit motive and focuses on reducing demand for drugs by treating drug use as a public health concern, rather than a crime.

Since Richard Nixon declared war on drugs in 1973, the United States has spent billions in a losing cause trying to eradicate the use of “illegal” drugs in America. For the 2007 fiscal year alone, the Bush administration requested $12.7 billion for federal drug control efforts (National Drug Control Strategy, 2006, 1), a figure that doesn’t begin to cover state and local law enforcement, court, prison and health care costs, or more esoteric costs such as lost productivity in the workforce. This paper focuses on the potential benefits and risks of partial legalization of heroin — which, along with cocaine, particularly crack cocaine, probably faces the highest stigma of all illicit drugs. However, the same problems that make heroin so reviled, including its addictiveness and potential for harming the user, are what make heroin an ideal test case for “controlled legalization” along with a medical/public health model. Rather than continuing to fight a war that cannot be won, the United States should beat a strategic retreat — and seek a true victory elsewhere, looking to actually solve the problem by acknowledging the medical and psychological reasons for drug use in the first place. Then, the nation could focus on addressing those issues head-on, without apology, and with an eye on continuous improvement for the betterment of its citizens and communities.

Legalization in any form is seen by many as a moral failure. The thinking is, if something is “wrong,” it is wrong not to stop it or outlaw it. It has proven difficult, however, in almost a century of legislation, to curtail the use of drugs like heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Instead, the laws have created a pervasive and profitable black market controlled by criminals, who pocket the cash while the American taxpayer foots the bill. Legalization in some form, with the intent of controlling demand, could go a long way toward eliminating criminal trafficking, deaths and overdoses due to impure/too pure product and the spread of deadly diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis. Refocusing heroin as a sign of a medical condition, not a criminal or moral failing, would bring users into treatment where theyMyhomeworkwriters Order

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