05 January 2010

Heroin Guide

There is much ado about $32,000 spent to produce and distribute a safety guide for heroin users in the Big Apple. The DEA specifically has attacked the idea of the guide.
The New York City Health Department printed tens of thousands of copies, and it has outraged drug enforcement agents.

On Monday Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the Health Department's flyer "Take Charge, Take Care." He did so because critics are calling it a how-to manual for drug users.

"Nobody condones drug use," Bloomberg said. "But if you're going to use it, it certainly is not in anybody's interest in society to have you get HIV and AIDS."

The Drug Enforcement Administration completely disagrees.

"It sends out the wrong message. It sends out the message that using heroin can be safe. And that is so far from the truth," said DEA Agent John Gilbride.
It's pretty obvious the stake the DEA has in this. Their budget has been hard-hit by the new administration, and current trends promise a harsh future for them. With the Obama administration halting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and promising to honor local marijuana laws over federal in many cases, the mythical "war on drugs" may finally be ending soon, with an admission that illegal drugs are a problem of our people, not their enemy. And that doesn't bode well for the DEA's healthy $2.4 billion budget. They have a specific and vested interest in opposing any initiatives that treat drug users as anything more than criminals.

But then there are the public commentators. I just heard Sean Hannity attack the program, laughing at the idea of helping heroin users avoid HIV or infection. While he attacked the cost of the program as well (laughable when you consider that $32,000 is astonishingly low for any city-wide decent program in NYC), that wasn't his main complaint - particularly because he declared that "twenty cents would be too much!"

No, Hannity's complaint (and the complaint of others) is spending any money on people who use drugs. It has to be an ideological complaint, of course, since the cost of only a few drug users who get HIV will go far beyond $32,000. And the unspoken message is quite simple: "Those people deserve to die."

That's what's really being said, isn't it? People who use drugs don't deserve medical advice, and if their addictions cost them their lives, then so be it. It's the price they pay for being Criminals.

It's a familiar message from conservatives, but it never seems any less monstrous.

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