A solution to the drug problem?

It's not a drug problem, it's a money problem. It's the money that drives the violence. It's the money that funds the smuggling. It's the money that promotes the addiction. It's a money problem. Violence is not a way to acquire drugs; it is a way to control the supply of money.

The money is a problem in so many ways. It is the reason for petty theft to support a drug habit. It is the reason the pusher is selling the drugs. It is the reason for street gangs trying to control the market. It supports bribery and corruption of those expected to control the market. It is the reason for smuggling across our borders. It supports the evil governments of so many South American countries. It supplies the funding for middle east terrorism.

And for those of us not in the drug business, there are costs. There are the costs of petty theft to supply a habit, the costs of police enforcement, the costs of import controls, the costs of arrest and incarceration, the costs of prosecution, the costs of imprisonment,

We can arrest, prosecute, punish and so on, but if the money is there, someone will forever be trying to manipulate and acquire it. The more we try to control, the more valuable the business becomes. The only solution to the problem is to eliminate the money from the drug scene.

I think there may be a way. Provide the drugs for free at a government run clinic. That's right, no money, no strings, no limits. If you want heroin; it's free. If you want OxyContin; it's free. Cocaine; free. Please keep reading.

If you are a drug dealer, what are you faced with? Can you collect money from an addict if he can get his drugs for free? What happens to the smuggling, distribution, crime gangs, terrorism, all funded by the drug sales?

Let's view this from the standpoint of an addict. You need a dose. You can get it for free at the clinic. You no longer need petty crime to fund your purchase. You walk into the clinic and get just what you need of a clinically pure drug, a known dose, professionally administered in a sterile mode, in a safe clean environment. While under the influence, you are not allowed to just walk out and drive home, but you are in a protected place where professional help is available for bad trips or other complications.

The clinic is also the perfect place to offer (not require) help. Someone who can be treated as a patient rather than a criminal. We can't force an addict to be cured, they need to decide to make the effort to overcome the addiction. But they may need guidance and opportunity. Here is the place to offer recovery and aid.

The government can fund an operation like this for a fraction of the current drug fighting cost. We would have to have drug companies package and supply pharmaceutically clean drugs, but narcotics are already among the cheapest drugs in the world to produce. It would have a major impact on crime. Let's look at some of the advantages.

I would expect the population of addicts to shrink due to lack of drug promotion. One aspect of the drug business is pushing. People are aware of drug problems. They are not likely to say “It's time, I want to try heroin.” They are invited to participate by users who need partners to contribute to their habit. Without the financial motivation, introduction to drug use should diminish.

Is this a flawless Utopian scheme? Nope. In fact I have my doubts it will ever be seriously considered. There are several reactions I have had to suggesting this. It's all or nothing, and all at once (=big risk). You're not going to have free drugs in Bolton and paying addicts in Stow. It's going to cost startup money. I'm sure the bottom line is smaller, but you don't get to the bottom line the day you start. It's going to cost jobs - look at the dollars spent on law enforcement, prosecution and imprisonment (not to mention quite a few illicit jobs which would be eliminated).

Some prefer vengeance to compassion when it comes to the drug industry. There's not a whole lot of pity here, and locking up the bad guys is good political fodder. There's a moral issue. Some see drugs as evil. You can't provide drugs to anyone without violating principles some have grown up with and can't change.

Strangely, we may not need to do much legally to try this. We can leave public use of drugs as illegal as it is now. The government is already legally permitted to possess and deal with drugs. For example the police regularly seize, test, store and dispose of drugs. With controls, drugs can be made, researched and tested by the government.

I was approached by Diane, a pretty young teenager, who wanted money, ostensibly gas money. I knew she wanted it for drugs. She had already been in trouble many times and had complicating emotional issues. I didn't offer her money. But I thought later, I wish I could go to CVS and buy her the heroin she needed, a clean, known dose. I was not going to help her addiction by denying her, but what she was doing was so dangerous. I few years later she did not make it. It may have been accidental, carelessness or suicidal. She died of an overdose. Would she have eventually been cured? Too late now. I wish she and others had the opportunity to frequent a clinic. I'd like to call it “Diane's Place”.

Bob Johnson