Monday, August 31, 2015

Fentanyl is deadly— but don't trade our freedom for safety

There's a new drug causing havoc, acetyl fentanyl mixed with heroin. It is killing people — and as usual politicians, those who lack any vision, intuition or the ability to grasp social change stick to the same old solutions and of course, those old solutions just done work.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills was recently interviewed by NPR radio. She gave the same old answer to the problems with the out-dated "war on drugs."
She told NPR that prosecutors should seek the ability to make felony charges in fentanyl cases. She wants that both to push users to roll over on their friends and dealers and also forcing them into rehab.

"We want to have a significant sentence hanging over them, Mills says, "so that we can encourage them — force them, if you will — into treatment."

There is no question this is a dangerous mixture. Fentanyl is almost 100 times as strong as heroin. It's affects are supposed to be similar. The average addict could likely handle a grain or more of pure heroin. The problem is that they usually shoot up street heroin, up to a gram at a time because heroin gets cut with other powders from one drug dealer to the next to stretch it out. The average gram of street heroin is about 2 to 10 percent pure.  The fentalyn is being added by street dealers to boost their drug and make their customers satisfied so they will buy more. But a fentalyn high can be as much as a few grains of salt. It just takes a little too much of it to kill a person.
But new federal penalties are not inline with movements to stop the ridiculous jailing of people for petty drug charges. Such a movement has been going on in Wichita:

"The real problem is that locking up users of marijuana has filled our jails, and that has put a heavy tax burden on our society. It should be clear to everyone by now that we are locking people up for petty reasons.

The group JENI (Jobs and Education-Not Incarceration) and the Peace and Social Justice Center worked for months to gather the needed signatures to put this issue on the ballot in Wichita. They are concerned about mass incarceration and are looking for ways to reduce it. Keeping marijuana users out of prisons is a good first step".

Also there is the problem of freedom of choice. [1] We can decide what people actually do, but do we have the right to force them to change their minds?
Such tactics rarely work . There is evidence that drug treatment works, but mostly with people who WANT to get off drugs. If a person likes those drugs or feels a need to self medicate, they will only go on to using them again. From -សតិវ អតុ:

Our founding fathers called for “the pursuit of happiness.” And yet those who want certain drugs that may help them to feel better are denied by a puritan society that believes prayer and religion should be the only kind of self medication. The founding fathers’ words are simply ignored. We live in a “one-size fits all” society that believes we must all live the same, believe the same, act the same and live in a restricted environment where our life style choices are heavily controlled.

There is a the simple case that those who really want to self medicate with narcotics, for what ever reason, have the right to refuse treatment. They should not be forced into something they really don't want.
And there is the moral argument that those who fail treatment and get a felony conviction, they will not find work when they are released and they may end up permanently ruined.
We need to focus on reducing mass incarceration and protecting our freedoms. Drug laws lead to fascism.
Canada is experimenting with supplying addicts with prescription heroin. That is a different approach and one I feel is better than filling our jails with people who really aren't criminals. Also we don't need to recreate people in the state's own image and likeness.
So the bottom line is—yes fentanyl is a dangerous drug. But oppose taking our freedom away from us.

[1] Steve Otto, Can You Pass the Acid Test, (Publishamerica, Baltimore), 2007, pp. 10-11. 

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