Saturday, January 19, 2008

Prohibition takes four more lives

People always have and always will take drugs, it seems. But only under prohibition does it cause wholesale death and destruction.

On Thursday morning I couldn't get out of my street into William Street because the police were there taping off a crime scene around a body on the pavement.

The young man's body was lying flat on its back, toes spread outwards, hands placed neatly on its abdomen.

While police remained tight-lipped, word on the street is that the man is one of four who died locally after injecting a new batch of drug available on the illicit and unregulated street market. The drugs are probably either unusually strong or cut with a deadly substance, and alarm has spread quickly amongst users.*

Heartless people will say 'serve them right,' but others will understand that each of these victims has family and friends who will now be grieving. Each had made mistakes -- like all of us -- but each has now been robbed of a chance at redemption. And each would probably still be alive if they had been able to access their drugs legally from a regulated system.

The world-wide carnage caused by prohibition is increasing (see stories 6, 7 and 8 at the link embedded in the headline). It's well past time to change our approach.

* 22 March: More reliable sources now say there were only two actual deaths in the area and that it was more likely that the overdoses were caused by mixing the legal pharmaceutical Xanax (like Valium but stronger) with the rather low quality heroin that's generally around lately. Also the beat up about Afghani Brown heroin seems to be largely in the media's imagination.

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