For more than a century, the US government has failed to stop Americans from consuming politically disadvantaged intoxicants. Worse, it has systematically made drug use more dangerous by forcing consumers to rely on black market products of unknown composition and by pushing traffickers towards increasingly potent and easier to smuggle substances.
The ongoing “opioid crisis”, which has resulted in drug-related deaths at record levels, illustrates both phenomena. But instead of acknowledging the deadly effects of Prohibition, President Joe Biden is doubling down on a strategy that never worked as intended.
Last week, Biden signed two executive orders aimed at tackling “transnational criminal organizations” that “directly contribute to tens of thousands of drug overdose deaths in the United States each year.” An order replaces the federal government’s Threat Mitigation Task Force with an all-new US Council on Transnational Organized Crime; The other authorizes sanctions against “foreigners involved in the illicit drug trade on a global scale”.
Over the past two decades, a “senior administrative official” Recount reporters on a conference call, “the nature of drug trafficking has changed dramatically.” Illegal drugs these days, the official said, are “more potent, addictive and deadly and capable of mass killing”, as evidenced by “the skyrocketing death rate from synthetic opioids.”
During the year ending last May, according to estimates from the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention, the United States has recorded more than 100,000 drug-related deaths, up 23% from the previous year and 46% from the previous year. Three-quarters of these cases involved opioids, and 85% of the approximately 75,000 opioid-related deaths were in the category which includes fentanyl and its analogues.
These record numbers reflect the perverse impact of the government’s efforts to reduce drug-related deaths. The rise in the number of deaths follows a successful campaign to reduce opioid prescriptions, which has led non-medical users to black market substitutes that are much more dangerous because their purity and potency are unpredictable.
Between 2010 and 2017, the number of opioid prescriptions per 100 Americans fell by 28%; The rate of high-dose opioid prescriptions, defined as 90 milligram equivalents of morphine or more per day, fell 56%. Meanwhile, annual opioid-related deaths have more than tripled since 2010.
In a 2017 interview with the Carlisle Sentinel, Carrie DeLone, former general practitioner from Pennsylvania, confessed that “we knew this was going to be a problem, that we were going to push drug addicts in a direction that was going to be deadlier.” His justification: “You have to start somewhere.
To find out where that attitude can lead, think about what happened after OxyContin, an extended-release version of oxycodone, was reformulated to deter abuse in 2010. A 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper concluded that “a substantial part of the dramatic increase in heroin-related deaths since 2010”, perhaps up to 80%, “can be attributed to the reformulation of OxyContin”.
The proliferation of fentanyl as a stimulant and heroin substitute has compounded this problem by making potency even more variable. “Today’s drug trade is no longer based on crops or requiring large areas,” the “senior administration official” noted last week, “but rather on synthetic materials and precursor chemicals. “.
This trend is also dictated by government policy. Fentanyl, which is about 50 times more potent than heroin, is a logical choice for suppliers facing government efforts to suppress the drug trade, as it makes production and distribution less visible and more profitable.
In terms of imports, researchers from RAND Corporation valued in 2019, “heroin appears to be at least 100 times more expensive than fentanyl. “And because fentanyl is so much more potent than heroin, a packet weighing less than an ounce can replace one that weighs a few pounds.
“Historically,” The hill Noted in his report on Biden’s executive orders, “drug trafficking organizations have quickly adapted to new law enforcement strategies.” Yet somehow the government never seems to anticipate this reaction or its deadly consequences.
© Copyright 2021 by Creators Syndicate Inc.