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June 9, 2006 - Daily Southtown (IL)

OpEd: Shocking Tolerance Of Drug-War Casualties

By James E. Gierach, attorney from Oak Lawn

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

In the 1990s in Chicago, it was not uncommon to read the Monday newspapers and learn that 12 kids had been shot and killed over the weekend, compliments of the drug war and the turf wars caused by drug prohibition.

This past weekend, the drug war took us to a new low when 13 of its victims were paralyzed and killed in Chicago from its newest rage -- Fentanyl-laced heroin. Reportedly, Fentanyl-laced heroin produces a better high sought by addicts in an effort to repeat the euphoria of their first use of heroin.

Of course, you're only a heroin virgin once, and once you eat of the forbidden fruit, you have knowledge, and heroin never tastes as good again. In time, a hardcore heroin addict needs his dope just to feel normal and function -- legal or not, expensive or not.

So what does U.S. Drug Czar John Walters do now, and habitually, to fight the new craze of Fentanyl-laced heroin? Does he come to Chicago to offer heroin addicts untainted heroin taken from drug-war evidence vaults? Does he say, "Suffer the little addicts to come unto me, Uncle Sam, and get a safer untainted heroin fix"?

Does he compete with Chicago drug gangs financially by offering free, laboratory-tested, uncontaminated heroin of known potency to drug addicts to lure them from street poison and into government-sponsored and regulated heroin maintenance clinics with treatment options and addict free will?

No, the drug czar does none of those things. Instead, he and his drug-war cohorts advertise the bad heroin to the general public in frightful terms like: "Why this heroin is so strong, so tainted, so bad, it can kill you."

And the result? Addicts are heard to say, "Please pass the 'really good stuff.'" For decades, drug addicts have responded to anti-drug warnings by doing the opposite of what the anti-drug advertising was intended to accomplish.

Like the DARE stickers on Cook County sheriff vehicles and anti-drug public service announcements of the past, the Fentanyl-laced heroin anti-drug advertising of today boosts drug sales, contaminated or not.

Last weekend, I visited my daughter and grandchildren in D.C. The Chicago Fentanyl-laced drug story is so big, I read about it in section one of the Sunday Washington Post. Back home in Chicago on Tuesday, I read the page-one Chicago Tribune story about a U.S. drug policy that is so bad that it has caused the international production of Fentanyl-laced heroin that has killed people in eight states!

But no drug-horror story surprises me anymore -- police planting evidence, stealing drugs from the evidence vault, aligning with drug cartels and drug gangs, drug czars going to prison, innocent toddlers shot in turf-war crossfire, airport strip searches, drug police bashing down doors, drug dogs in schools, addict crime, prison-building mania, outlawing clean needles in the face of an AIDS epidemic, correctional officers smuggling drugs to inmates, killings over $25 drug debts, drug tunnels, baby-formula smuggling schemes, dealers ratting on one another to save themselves at the expense of others, mandatory minimum sentencing injustice, drug-profit funding of terrorism ...

But I admit that the public's continued tolerance and silence in the midst of a murderous and brain-cramped U.S. drug policy continually astounds me. Fentanyl-laced heroin only paralyzes the respiratory system and kills addicts by suffocation one at a time. Drug war, on the other hand, is choking the world to death and amorality.

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