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April 13th, 2009
08:00 AM ET

Heroin cheaper than six-pack of beer

CNN's Carol Costello reports on who Mexican drug cartels are preying upon.
CNN's Carol Costello reports on who Mexican drug cartels are preying upon.

By Ronni Berke and Carol Costello

Massapequa, New York (CNN) - Doreen and Victor Ciappa thought they got a second chance when their 18-year-old daughter, Natalie, survived a heroin overdose last May.

Her mother recalled how, after the overdose, Natalie promised to stop using, insisting she didn't need rehab.

"She said 'oh no, I'm not going. I'll get myself off it,'" Doreen said.

Doreen Ciappa says she had no idea the packets she found among Natalie's belongings after her first overdose were actually heroin. "I had spent hours on the internet trying to figure out what they were."

During the year before the overdose, Natalie had changed. The straight-A student, cheerleader and accomplished singer had lost weight and began seeing less and less of her old friends. She was spending a lot of time alone in her room, writing songs and poetry. She started hanging out with a new boyfriend. Soon, she was missing curfew and fighting frequently with her parents. Despite their suspicions, the Ciappas say it never occurred to them Natalie was using heroin.

Within weeks of the first overdose, she went out to a party and never came home. Natalie had overdosed again, this time fatally.

Law enforcement officials say a tiny, one-dose bag of heroin, costing $5-$10, is cheaper than highly controlled synthetic opiates like Oxycontin or Hydrocodone - and easily accessible to teenagers.

"Unfortunately, today, a bag of heroin can be cheaper than a 6 pack of beer," said John Gilbride, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency's New York Field Division.

Vote! Should drugs be legal in the U.S.?

And this cheap heroin is deadlier than ever, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.  Unlike a generation ago, when the street drug was less than 10 percent pure - today's version can be upwards of 70 percent pure. Teenagers are snorting it, smoking it in joints, and getting hooked faster, and overdosing more.

"Try heroin once, and you may not have the opportunity to try it again," Gilbride says.

Wayne O'Connell, Managing Director of the Daytop drug treatment program's outreach center on Long Island, says they are seeing teens as young as 13 using heroin.

According to the Justice Department's National Drug Threat Assessment (2009), Mexican criminal groups are expanding Mexican heroin distribution in eastern states, taking over the South American heroin market. Mexican heroin production increased 105 percent from 1999 to 2007, while Colombian heroin production decreased 47 percent during about the same period. (1999-2006)

The NDTA says more than half of heroin arrests nationwide happen in mid-Atlantic and Northeast states – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. In the Northeast states, the Department of Health reports that in 2006, almost twice as many heroin users sought treatment than all other regions combined (173,728 vs. 90,405).

On Long Island's Nassau County, where the Ciappas live, police made 211 heroin-related arrests in 2008. So far in the first three months of this year, police say, they have made 135 such arrests.

Officials and drug counselors say heroin is luring middle-class teenagers like Natalie Ciappa, because they don't feel the stigma associated with the image of the heroin addict as an IV-drug user.

"I think we skipped a generation in education," said Detective Lt. Peter Donohue of the Nassau County Police Department's Narcotics Vice Squad. "The young kids don't see the perils with heroin."

Parents, too, may be unaware of the perils of heroin. The Ciappas have channeled their grief into a mission to save other children from Natalie's fate. Above all, they want school districts to send home warnings to parents when there are reports of heroin use or arrests.

"They teach the kids about everything and update them on everything. They tell parents about head lice and pinkeye, and yet they're keeping quiet about this."

The Ciappas helped pass Long Island's "Natalie's Law," which requires officials to post on the web heroin related arrests by location, frequency, and age of those arrested.

Appearing at a local civic association meeting, Doreen Ciappa pointed to a poster of Natalie and told parents: "This picture was taken nine days before my daughter died. This is today's heroin addict. This is what they look like. They look like everybody's kids."

Some districts are reaching out to parents. Alan Groveman, Superintendent of the Connetquot School District, also spoke at the meeting the Ciappas attended.

"Schools in some cases are concerned that it will give them a reputation of a drug haven or an outlaw building that is problematic," Groveman said. "We've taken the opposite approach," he said. "The children are at stake and that's really the issue."

Victor Ciappa says his daughter had everything going for her, until heroin came into her life. "She had everything to live for. And I just never wondered 'cause I never thought it was an issue. I never thought a kid like that would ever dabble with something as scary as heroin."

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Filed under: Drugs
soundoff (383 Responses)
  1. Boom

    I was a heroin addict since 1968...and I haven't shot any drugs since April 15, 2000. I went to prison 6 times all as a result of stealing to support my habit. This last time, I made up my mind! I was in a therapeutic community the whole 4 years I was locked up and this contributed towards my freedom from addiction. I attended N.A. when I got out & this, too, contributed towards my recovery. People along the way...all the pain thru the years, all those people talking about how bad I looked (the cheeks of my butt didn't even meet! That's how thin I had gotten!)...the love of my Mother, the torches other recovering addicts held up for me...plus, I had just gotten older & wiser...call it a revelation, touched by an angel, whatever you want, you HAVE to have a Made Up Mind to get there! I don't know the answer but I do know the war on drugs is a flop. If there is no demand, there will be no supply. We, as a nation, love an altered reality so what's wrong w/ us?? Figure that out & the drug problem will disappear.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  2. Becky Bear

    One of the reasons kids do not believe adults about heroin is we have lied to them about pot and they know it. When most of our "drug education" is built around the base of this lie, there really is no way to get kid's attention and belief. I am 64 years old, and I say the best way to get a handle on the drugs that are truly dangerous is to uncriminalize the one that is not. The hypocrisy of adults telling kids about the bad effects of pot and then going off to have a drink of alcohol, just invalidates the whole message.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  3. Bob

    I don't understand why these weak people need ANY type of drug!! Be it alcohol, pot, tobacco, etc.... Why can't people just learn to cope with life? Its ridiculous that ANYONE feels so weak that they choose to mask their lives rather than face them and deal with them. These parents of drug addicts probably drink and/or smoke themselves which is NEVER a good example for kids. Teach your kids to work through their problems, not mask them with substances.
    Drugs of any type are just plain STUPID. Stand up, be a man/woman and deal with your life – you put yourself in your own situations so learn to deal with them yourselves without needing drugs (or the goverment) to "bail" you out. They're all just a bunch of loosers..........................

    April 13, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  4. mario

    To those that thing this level of availability ($5 bags, etc) is restricted to big cities and the notheast - BUNK!

    I live in a large city now and my wife is from a one-horse-town in Ohio.... There is NO difference in what you can get where.

    Drugs are everywhere as it is and they are ILLEGAL! Moral of the story - ILLEGAL isn't working.

    Bert from the Netherlands has it right.... Legalize everything, educate everyone and after a while you won't have near the problem you have now. Yes, there will always be addiction, but addiction is the smaller of the current problems.... ORGANIZED CRIME is the big one, by far, and this will disappear OVERNIGHT with legalization!

    April 13, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  5. Julie

    Matthew: You are right, one bag of heroin isn't enough to get an addict high, but... it is enough to get a child addicted. This is so stupid! Would our society seriously consider legalizing heroin? If so then I am moving to an island somewhere. I can't stomach the thought of my children ingesting, in any manner, that drug, or any other drug, but HEROIN???? Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs out there. My husband left 2 children behind for me to be a single mom to. He was a heroin addict. He said over and over – you just don't understand, I can't quit, I will die. Well... he ended up killing himself because he couldn't stand himself anymore. I have prayed that God will wipe all drugs out. People on heroin, and yes it might be cheap, will steal anything from anyone to support their habit. Most can't work because of their habit. Wow, legalize heroin, what a sickening thought.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  6. Dennis

    A major issue here, if you leave out the Morality and the Politics and the emotional stuff around people who have been hurt by any drug, is the objective cost benefit analysis. In terms of the human condition many responsible people these days are saying that we will generally hurt ourselves as a people less in aggregate by legalizing Pot, period. As a mental health professional for the last thirty years I believe that making a change in our interface with this issue is a positive step and would probably be better than out current policy.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  7. Philip

    amen to those who posted comments indicating the abuses committed under the rubric of "The Rule Of Law" by police and others in the "Justice" system. The police answer to noone and it is impossible for those without tremendous recources to find remediation for offences committed by authorities. All school children should be appraised of the situation – that powerful world-class drug gangs seek their addiction (and really, their death), and the police hide massive civil rights atrocities behind those shiny badges and pressed uniforms. And in the cases of the drug gangs and penal systems, billions of dollars at stake will negate any and all attempts at reform.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  8. Paul Battis

    Most of the world's heroin derives from opium that is grown in Afghanistan. Since the U.S. has been at war with and in Afghanistan the production of Opium has INCREASED 90%. The Taliban had all but arradicated it from thier country and then the U.S. invasion and the growing begins again. So much for the war on drugs.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  9. Todd

    Where are you all buying your beer at?? I can get a 12pk of beek for less than $10....but I don't think this is something CNN should be advertising...

    April 13, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  10. KC

    Paul,
    I just wanted to say how brave it is of you to be facing your issues head-on. I can imagine how overwhelming this time must be for you. I hope you continue to find all the support you need and that you stay focussed on the positive direction your life is heading. God bless!

    April 13, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  11. Donald

    I maintain that we should eradicate drug crops wherever we find them. If we have to pay the particular government for eradication then so be it. Capital punishment for any and all drug dealers, no matter their age. Get tough and eradicate drugs. Bomb Afghanistan’s and Columbia’s drugs out of existence!!! Take the tough approach or suffer the consequences!

    April 13, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  12. Patti

    I have a 22 year old daughter who is now living in a re-hab house for heroin and crack addictions. She has an 11month old son who lives with us, and every time I look at him I am reminded of what drugs do to families. Her life with drugs began at 17 years of age and her drug of choice was crack, after much re-hab, counseling etc.. I was feeing that maybe she had won the fight. Then when she got pregnant, she was happier than I had seen her in a long while, and she told us all how she was going to do whatever she had to do to be a good mother. I believed her. Then when the baby was around 3 months old she started to change, becoming argumentative again, not coming home until all hours, I had become the baby's care taker every evening. Then the stealing started, from her 12 year old brother all his electronics, and money from all of us, and the rages. I confronted her about using again, and she denied it, so don't believe everything. Then the final straw she went crazy at home one night, it was the first time I was ever afraid of her. Long story short, the one thing she had always said she would never do was to put a needle in herself, well, she had, and by the time she decided to go to detox she was up to 10 bags of heroin a day. She is a good person, a sweet daughter, who has an addiction. I pray daily that she finds the strength to fight each day, and I thank God that she is still here to try and fight. As a parent, this is the worse thing, you have to keep the faith.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  13. Jarrod

    In 2004 I watched the body of a 16 yr old being pulled from a car behind my apartment complex. He had overdosed on heroin, and his friends had left him in the car and fled. It drilled home a point: every time I turned on the tv, there was an anti-pot add... pot makes you lazy, pot makes you uncool ect. But no adds about how HEROIN KILLS YOU!. And I wonder, if by lying to kids about how harmfull weed is (its not) that we lost our credibility. When kids are told the two are just as harmfull, and they find marijuana is about as bad as beer, then they assume heroin isnt as bad.
    Can we finally rethink the drug war? Quit going after pot, many of us with good jobs choose pot instead of alcohol on the weekend. Put that effort into heroin, meth, crack, the things that ruin you for life. Legalize the weed, and re-focus on what matters. Because one more add about how my dog wont like me if I smoke weed, is one less add informing kids that HEROIN KILLS.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  14. Maven

    It's sad that so many idiots have attempted to use this tragedy as an excuse to further their own moronic "legalize pot" agenda.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  15. Shridhar

    David (And others who support legalizing drugs)

    what happens when people start getting high ( & drunk) and get behind wheels ? you got a remote-controlled universal break that will stop that car hurtling down the intersection where you and me are just sitting in our cars ?

    I suggest enacting death penalty for drug traffickers .. if I had my way I would shoot these scumbags in their essentials right in the middle of the townsquare. That should put a quick stop to the nonsense.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  16. Mitch

    it's tragic, it really is, and I feel for the family of anyone who dies from an overdose. But let's be honest, this is just natural selection working its course.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  17. Tony

    this whole thread looks like an argument in congress.... it ultimately has nothing to do with the original issue....

    legalize drugs like alcohol and tobacco??? great idea!!!! still have to be 18 or 21 to buy them??? perfect plan!!!!!

    guess who still gets them from the pushers??? TEENS / YOUNG PEOPLE

    guess why??? because mommy and daddy continue to funnel obscene amounts of gifts and money at their little darlings to buy their love

    cut off the cash flow to the kids and many of the issues affecting young people will be significantly reduced...

    parents have somehow been bamboozled by this notion that children deserve privacy and autonomy.... i say hell no!! you should know and control EVERY aspect of your kid's life until the day he/she leaves the home.

    this artificial 'fear' that overbearance will alienate a kid and cause them to hate 'you' is a complete farce. smother a child with true love and they are yours for life.

    with all respect to the parents of this girl..... i do not believe for one moment that they had a clue about her life outside of the kitchen and family room.... that's where it has to start... and that's a battle that middle/average america does not really want to fight.... so i guess we just chock up the losses (of young people) to collateral damage??

    oh well?????

    April 13, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  18. John

    The war on drugs is a joke, the priorities of US drug laws have been twisted into a perverse battle of blame and punishment that wreaks of hypocritical decomposition.
    There are billionaires who have made their billions trafficking in drugs coming across US boarders, and Wash. DC continues to pump billions of dollars($8billion) into Columbia, Peru...that was suppose to stop the drug trade. The reason nothing is fixed is because the US government doesn't want it fixed, I could fix the problem today. Try talking to your federal representative about this subject, and you will receive a form letter response. I know this because I've contacted my representatives (House&Senate) and it's like talking to a block of coal.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  19. dave

    For you pro-legalization peolpe. Please explain why you think legalizing drugs will stop illegal drug sales. We have illegal cigarettes, illegal daily numbers, illegal alcohol. the fact that these items can be purchased legally does not eliminare the black market.

    Anyone who wants to legalize heroin is an idiot. 10% of people who use alcohol will become addicted and damage their lives and the lives of everyone who cares about them. 90% of people who use heroin will become addicted and damage their lives and the lives of everyone around them.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  20. George

    Interesting discussion. Two years ago, it was oxycontin. Legal, controlled and taxed. Minors will still not be able to purchase heroin OTC, even if it is legalized – so where will they get it? The article is about teen use of street heroin – this discussion has turned to legalization of all drugs. Legalizing drugs will not stop teens illegally purchasing heroin, it will just open another door for them to get the drug.

    Morphine is legal – for certain uses. People still buy heroin instead – because it is NOT taxed. Get a scrip for Opana from your doctor (4X stronger than morphine – and try to buy it without insurance. Get ready to pay $1000's! Legalized heroin would be the same – very expensive, unless if you buy unregulated, untaxed street heroin. Legalization will not work, either to keep our kids from illegal drugs, rid us of the gangs and cartels nor raise tax revenues. Drug cartels are not stupid. They are probably also pro-legalization, have patents ready to file, and will still have a large street market.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  21. Braxton

    1. Educate Children
    2. Pay attention to your Guts and your children's behavior
    3. Get involved w/your childs activities and friends
    4. Know who YOUR kid is hanging out with
    5. DO NOT legalize drugs (That's Crazy!)

    realistically, only your child has the power to STOP what goes into their Nose, Mouth and veins. But YOU have the power to educate and drive into their minds what are the best things for them. Don't make it sound like a speach make it sound good like the dealer's do, remind them that you love them, show them everything they have and could lose. Remind them that a REAL friend would not have you do anything that makes you feel shame, disgust or become addicted to control from the people that have always made sure you had: Clothes, Food and Shelter and have trusted all your life...right?

    April 13, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  22. bd

    Criminalize, police, prosecute, and incarcerate.

    Or legalize, regulate, tax, and educate.

    Which makes more sense?

    April 13, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  23. Hans

    Heroin is to dangerous to be legalized .
    Users are victims ,not criminals. They need treatment,not punishment.
    Leaders of drug cartels should get the death penalty for killing people ,they are terrorists and we should aggressively go after them.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  24. John Sonpull

    thanks for pointing out that heroin is cheaper than beer. in this economy, you have to watch every penny!

    some words of warning to all those greedy beer companies and bars out there: "you can be replaced!"

    bravo AM"fix", bravo!

    April 13, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  25. hddavidson

    where can i find some

    April 13, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  26. Bert

    I was born and raised in The Netherlands which has one of the most liberal drug laws in the world, but also serious anti-drug campaigns. Just to give you a data point: when I grew up in the 70s in Holland, I was never offered drugs, never used them, and none of my friends used them. Simply because like smoking, we all knew it was bad for us. Point being: culturally it was unaccepted to be a dope head. Same with binge drinking (never did that even though drinking age is 16). FYI, I came to the States and was offered drugs (of course I declined - drugs kill) and saw more drunk college students than I ever saw in Europe.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  27. Jim

    Keeping drugs illegal has provided a multi-dollar source of revenue for criminal organizations. The mafia, the street gangs, the biker gangs, terrorists; they have all profited tremendously from the drug trade. They have been able to buy more and better weapons than the police . They have the money to bribe officials and undermine the legal system.

    Has the drug war rid our streets of drugs? Have we eliminated the drug addict from our society? Has the war on drugs made anything better at all?

    The war on drugs is a hideous failure. Countries like Mexico and Columbia are suffering terribly because of our drug policies.

    It is time we dealt with the drug problem in an intelligent and rational manner. We need to stop approaching it with emotion and a puritanical notion that drugs can somehow be eliminated. They cannot be eliminated. It's too basic to human nature.

    I'll tell you what will end the drug war.

    Sooner or later technology is going to allow people to make some incredibly strong drug out of toothpaste, tylenol or similar substance. There will be no choice no but to deal with the drug issue rationally rather than with the puritanical hysteria that currently dictates our drug policy.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  28. mytwocents

    Making drugs legal just means the illegal ones will be cheaper. Legalizing is not the answer, but rehab and education is. Since we're all so heavily affected by the media and movies, let those in charge of our information flow start producing media that has powerful anti-drug messages. The comment about giving away drugs for free and thereby eliminating the drug cartels is atrocious. Now our tax dollars would be going to pay for people's selfish addictions. What a concept. We're a very addicted culture. If not drugs, alcohol or tobacco, we're addicted to food, sex, you name it. What we need is an addiction to helping those in need. Selfishness ruins all of us.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  29. Seth K.

    This girl would likely be alive if it was legal, monitored for quality, taxed and regulated.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  30. Allen

    The poster earlier pointed out that just ONE bag of this cheap heroin ain't enough for an addict is speaking the truth – but is missing the point.

    $5 bags of heroin are a marketing tool used by dealers to get people to try the product, like it, then to want more. Haven't you ever been to a dealer who gets you a cheap or free "Taste" to get deeper into your pockets, to get you hooked, and to make you do whatever it takes (lie, cheat, steal) to get the more expensive stuff?

    Retailers do the same thing to entice us to buy their products. They have the $9.98 coffee pot on the end of the isle to get us interested in that wonderful $28.99 coffee pot that is just down the aisle from the CHEAPO one.

    These dealers and the drug cartels are brilliant marketing and distribution machines. And it will take education and persistance to keep our kids and schools informed of their methods.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  31. Gerald H

    We are in kind of a dilemma here: Prohibition and the "War on Drugs" do not work. Legalizing heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, etc., probably is not a great choice, either. The war on drugs simply makes the drug traffic more profitable for the corrupt and more expensive for society as a whole. Spending $30,000 per year to keep a typical drug offender locked up (that figure is typical in California) makes no sense ... the same $30,000 could be spent to pay for four years of high school. One year of medium security prison equals four years of high school.
    Legalizing has its own tremendous consequences. Look at the problems on the highway, in the home and in the workplace from legal alcohol. 20,000 dead per year on the roads. Billions of lost workdays. Untold marriages destroyed. If we legalize more substances like the heroin in this news story, or cocaine in another, basically multiply the societal problems by three.
    There is some merit to the notion of legalize, control distribution channels, and tax sufficiently to provide treatment options. Space here is too limited to really tear into the details. This is an issue that takes real consideration.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  32. Seth

    Legalizing this herion, will not stop the deaths, in fact it will increase it. I have worked in rehab for 21 years, they are targeting younger and younger people. But, like I said making it legal will not work, we will have morgues full rather than prisons.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  33. ff

    There's too much money being made in prohibition of drugs. All the war on drugs did was a create large government bureaucracy that employs people. Probably 40% of that bureaucracy pushes paper and do non-enforcement activities like manage people and go to meetings with themselves.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  34. marc

    uuuuuummmmmmm Josh, Poppy has to be processed to be turned into heroin. Marijuana is not processed.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  35. amy

    When I was in high school in, in Carroll County, Maryland from 1993-1997–We lost many classmates due to heroin overdoses, which led to a parent's group putting out the film "Heroin Kills". I believe they show the film in classrooms in this country and others.

    My point is, this is nothing new....

    Kids are going to get the drugs at any means. So it's up to the parents to PAY ATTENTION and educate yourselves so that you can notice any changes in your kids behavior.

    And that's all you can really do....

    April 13, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  36. Ben

    It does my heart good to see this much rational, open support for amending our nation's drug policy. The war on drug ABUSE is a fantastic idea – let's truly educate our children & do everything we can to explain that drug abuse is extremely deadly, and that drug use is not at all "safe."

    That said, the war on drugs is so many multiple times more reprehensible than the other war people rally against as being unjustified. The War on Drugs is the elephant in the room – if re-tailoring the laws in our country gave the nation a $80 billion a year profit *AND* put the drug cartels out of business.... umm.... isn't that WINNING the war on drugs???

    April 13, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  37. jk

    LIFE IS A GATEWAY TO DRUGS!

    MARIJUANA IS THE GATEWAY TO BACON DOUBLE CHEESEBURGERS AND HOT FUDGE SUNDAES.

    I'M STARVING!!!!!!!!!

    April 13, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  38. Me

    I can say that being raised in a home with my father being a "functional addict" if there is such a thing was an experience and has taught me that I did not want to take that road myself.
    However I do think that the legillization of drugs will lower the crime rate and assist in being able to control the access our children have to them. Not to mention the profit we (tax payers) would get.
    People, these drugs have been around forever and legal or illegal people will get them and they will not stop doing them unless they choose, no matter what education, rehab, or prision sentence they may get, it is a personal choice.
    I think that the gvernment does not have enough programs available for people that do want to get off of drugs, and some people can not do it alone. The way society looks at addicts is horrible, if we has a whole look at the assistance that we can provide and stop looking down on people then we can improve as a whole.

    Also I know it was mentioned above that we should just legilize all crime and then the crime rate will go down, that is insaine.
    I think that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and many other countries have legalized it and it does make the rape, assault and other crimes reduce significantly. This also goes back to the fact that we are free and we should be able to do what we feel necessary to provide for ourselves or our families. Prostitution happens every day and as with illegal drugs should be taxed and they should be able to set up brothels and have medical treatment for the employees to reduce the spread of disease.

    I understand the beliefs (moral and religious) that some people may have, but we all need to realize until we as the people have the control of the distribution of these things we will never get away from the deaths and crimes associated with them.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  39. Mike

    People listen to me. Yes drugs are around, yes most kids will do drugs at somepoint, but honestly most people dont educate thier kids well enough to understand how bad most drugs are. Talks dont really do crap. Show them with pictures, and what they could end up being. Hugs not drugs! and legalizing drugs will make it worse and probation will make gang and drug life worse.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  40. justin

    I don't think one dose bags are extremely common outside of the northeast. Since that is where the heroin arrives and is most pure, it's easy to turn it into a small bag. From what I've been told, bags in NYC area are 2 to 3 x's as big as where I live and I know NJ has the purest heroin in the country. When the Heroin goes from NYC to Rochester to Buffalo, it gets less pure b/c of the cut. By the time it gets to these other cities, you can't make a $5 bag b/c it wouldn't do anything for an addict (which makes up the customers). I hate when media makes it seem as though there is a heroin epidemic outside of the lower class community that is selling the drug. Our media had tried to do this several years ago in a newspaper article. I don't live in Long Island or Manhattan so I would have no clue what the cross section of users would be in that area. I would imagine in those areas it may be easy to obtain heroin no matter where you are. When you have a smaller city though, heroin tends to be sold in bad neighborhoods where you won't see most middle/rich class kids venture. There will always be the random kid from the suburbs that knows someone and gets access. Usually no one will sell to you unless they know you b/c you could always be a narc. Also w/ drug awareness taught in schools, those who have never tried heroin or known someone who has, think it is a drug that will create some heavy mild altering state. Alcohol is still the main drug we need to worry about. There are only 1-2 million heroin addicts in this country and as long as the drug is around, there will always be. I don't think we'll ever see a huge addict number, even if the drug is legalized. It's just a sensational media topic that is blown out of proportion.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  41. Steve

    The lesson learned from Prohibition was that the sale of alcohol could not be stopped and the profits only created a class of highly organized criminals who terrorized society for decades. By continuing to criminalize "hard" drugs we are making the same awful mistake. By stigmatizing the users of these drugs we shut the door on those unfortunate enough to become addicted. These people need help, not incarceration. The same percentage of people will become addicted to drugs in any society irregardless of legality and the "War On Drugs" can never, ever be successful.

    Whether we are talking about The Christian Womens' Temperance Leagues of the late 1880's or the modern so called "Moral Majority", the solution to this problem starts with the rejection of the right wing political forces that dis-inform and frighten people into creating a society of criminals for the profit of a few politicians and the law enforcement class.

    Let's take the money out of the hands of criminals, prosecutors, lying politicians & evangelists as well as the incarceration industry and put it into the hands of educators, rehab clinics and the public tax coffers where it belongs. Let's regulate the content and quality of these dangerous drugs to greatly reduce tragic deaths of those who are trapped in addiction before they are given a chance to quit.

    I highly applaud Jim Green and many other intelligent & compassionate law enforcement workers who see first hand the destruction of the current model and have the courage to speak up from within this greedy, corrupt and dangerously failed system.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  42. Bill

    Re: Eric – April 13th, 2009 10:38 am ET

    When people bought legal heroin on the streets in the early 1900’s no one died.

    -----------

    That is nuts. People died from heroin and opium overdose all the time back then. Not sure where you're getting your romanticized version of drug history, but it is very, very wrong.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  43. mario

    Forget all this moral discussion... look at practicality:

    Its harder for a 16 year old to get a pack of cigarettes than it is to get any illegal drug.... Why? Cigarettes are sold above-board and controlled... there's no black market.

    If all illicit drugs were suddenly made legal - THEIR AVAILABILITY WOULD NOT INCREASE AS THEY ARE ALREADY "READILY AVAILABLE" - The only way drugs could be MORE available than they are now is to have door-to-door salesmen. So... what's the further harm caused by legalizing them? None, I say.... Within 10 minutes of where I'm sitting right now, I can get any illegal drug you can name... just like I can get any brand of beer you can name..... I just have to go to a different place to do it. Everyone (even non-drug users like me) seems to know where that is... its THAT ubiquitous.

    We are accomplishing NOTHING with the so-called War on Drugs..

    April 13, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  44. Pat

    If you make marijuana legal, the price will most certainly drop from the increase in competition. That wil make it available and at a very inexpensive cost. Use will undoubtedly increase.

    Also,. attempting to tax it wil only result in non-legal and nontaxed means of acquiring it. (likley the same / similar illegal means as now). Thus the same problems are not eliminated as some previous comments have predicted would happen.

    Be real here, drug sellers will just push different drugs to make their profit if they need to.

    Also don't underestimated the effects of its use. It is still a drug and look at how our youth abuse alcohol. Do you think somehow that Marijuana would be any different? Maybe its not worse than alcohol I don't know, but its really irrelevant. Bottom line is that more youth and probably adults would get addicted to drugs. Ddrug related violance may shift and slightly decrease, but in the end more people use drugs and all of the costs asociated with dealing with lives left behind is immeasurable.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  45. B.G. Readnour

    I know obese people who can't stop eating!
    I know drunks who can't stop drinking!
    I know addicts who can't stop using!
    I know loudmouths who can't stop bragging!

    I also know that I have had many opportunities to do any of the things listed above, but didn't, don't know why, just didn't.

    What I don't like is someone shooting off their mouths about what I should or shouldn't do. You cannot legislate morality. These people, many of them actual lawmakers, really need to just keep an eye on themselves, worry about their children, and quit making stupid laws that cost the American taxpayers a fortune.

    We now put people in prison for even thinking bad thoughts! I don't use drugs, but if I did, what business is it of theirs!

    April 13, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  46. learntocop

    http://www.learn2cope.org

    For families who need support

    April 13, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  47. George

    A generation didn't receive the proper education to avoid dope? Cocka-mammie-B.S.! The basics of knowing right from wrong, respecting your own temple (aka-body) and common sense (there has to be some out there some where). For to hide away from others and partake, in an activity that one's conscience fights over is suggestive that this "generation" understands the expenditures that they face in regards to their actions. We do not need to make victims out of those who in their sickness destroy their life and anyone’s around them. Making a generation out to be victims because somehow the system failed them is first class B.S. We can legalize, freely distribute and cut the profits of the drug business in America however there will be another more horrific introduction come along that involves the element of euphoria one craves in to in order to rebel social demands of the current day. When you make the elements more difficult for an addict or dealer to maneuver through in order to exist (just like rain water) it will flow to the lowest point. To legalize any substance so deadly is enabling the user to become our victim. It's mom and pops responsibility to teach their children values, respect for themselves and how to protect their bodies. The solution starts at home not in a den of lawmakers!

    April 13, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  48. Nick

    Regarding the post by David and his comment...

    'This will only end when the economic incentive is removed'

    The title of the article is 'Heroin cheaper than six-pack of beer'. You are witnessing the inaccuracy of your theory. If its still profitable to sell these drugs for such a low price, regulation will do nothing.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  49. Nohibition4u

    Prohibition obviously fails, but the govt's brand of treatment and prevention also fails because they lie and exaggerate about everything, heaven forbid they admit that some drugs are relatively harmless. I can't advocate anybody doing heroin, but illegalizing it clearly isn't stopping anyone, might as well allow ourselves to examine the problem under the light of day...

    April 13, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  50. jk

    John you are missing the point. The Mexicans get are money now because they are the ones making the drugs!!!!! If pot were legal here, then we would make it HERE, sell it HERE and buy it HERE. Then you wouldnt have Mexicans killing 100 Mexican police officers at a time trying to get it across the border. Put your beer and cigarette down and start making some sense!

    Its no different then growing tobacco in North Carolina and selling it in a store. What is so baffling about that?

    April 13, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  51. LL

    I have very mixed emotions on this subject. I am a wife of a recovering drug addict. This path to recovery has been a very long and painful experience, for all parties involved. I dont neccesarily support the "legalization" of drugs, But i also do not oppose it. I have tried to weigh the pro's and con's of the matter, and it is really a 50/50 chance on the good or the bad. Either way you roll the dice, lives will still be lost and those that arent lost will be shattered due to the onset of the drugs. People will still do what is necessary to find their "FIX" regardless of wether or not they are buying it illegally or legally, it is the "hold" that the drug has on them, not the drug itself. They become dependant on it. So if your hungry, do you eat, of course. It will be the same as if they were still illegal, people will still spend their entire paychecks, people will steal from their loved ones if need be, the "HOLD' of the drug on the person will still be there, legal or not.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  52. j.restivo

    My 22 year old son hung himself because of the effects of alcohol and drugs. He obviously felt he couldn't get away from them without tragic measures. I would give or do anything to have my son back. The pain of losing a child/ loved one is more than anyone should have to bear. Its an endless pain, with anxiety, self doubt, guilt attached.
    My younger son had a classmate o.d. on heroin. He says its all over. We're in N.Babylon NY. And like the heading says, YES, it is cheaper than beer and easier to get! God help our children. The state or county can't , won't do anything unless the person is arrested. I begged for help for him , He's tworked, but had no insurance. Something needs to be done NOW! Before we lose another.
    JR

    April 13, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  53. Americans against stupidity

    I don't agree with the leglaization of narcotics...

    HOWEVER. This country needs to legalize marijuana, and tolerate psychedleic drugs. This will free up immense resources and funds for eliminating or detering cocaine, meth, and heorine use.

    It is the narcotic drugs in this ocuntry that cause the bulk of our problems. EWliminate meth, cocaine, heorie, and even prescription drug abuse and this country will be in a lto bettershape.

    On the other hand, keep using valueable resources and money to prosecute pot users and psychedelics which have a very small overall effects of society and the other drugs which are much much much more dangerous will thrive and increase in useage causing more problems

    This ocuntry and its citizens can make a choice. It can choose to attack the real problems or it can treat all of these substances as equal and continue to spiral down the drain while it fials to really deter any useage at all.

    your choice people, its a give and take thing, and it is clearly a common sense thing

    April 13, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  54. Jerry

    the government cannot control EVERY aspect of a persons life. If someone wants to get high, they will find a way to do it. Legalizing it wont eliminate drug use, or even encourage it, it will simply take the money and the power away from the people who profit from it being illegal. the users arent the problem, its the sellers. Make it legal, remove the power and money, watch crime fall dramatically.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  55. Adam, Chicago, Illinois

    I am not in favor of legalization of all drugs. You cannot make a drug that can kill with one use...legal. You just cannot. But...you can make marijuana legal and use a % of the proceeds from that to fund education and rehabilitation of harder drug users. The anti-cigarette campaigns are working...imagine LARGE budget advertising campaigns against harder drugs at ZERO non-voluntary expense to the citizens of America.

    Heck you can even give the pot smokers credit..."This message brought to you by pot smokers...don't kill yourselves America...avoid cocaine, heroin, etc."

    April 13, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  56. Jack

    This whole thing with making drugs legal is an asinine idea. Making the drugs legal would mean telling children that they are acceptable. To think that would put the illegal drug makers out of business is pure stupidity also. It will still be more expensive for the legal versions of the drug were the FDA approve a version that would more then likely have to be prescribed by a doctor. There is no way the stuff would be over the counter. These type of statements are generally made by people who have IQ's not much larger then their shoe sizes. To compare it to Alcohol is also a ridiculous comparison. Yes you can die from drinking, but generally most people are not going to die from 1 or 2 drinks. People and children as seen in this article can die from just 1 or 2 doses of heroin. But you say the legal version won't be as potent. And I go back to the legal version will end up being more expensive making even more demand for illegal versions to be sold. I would say that at least half of the population drinks alcohol at one time or another. Is that what you want to happen with these type of drugs?? Do you think it will be OK for 50% or more of the population to start dabbling in heroin? . A highly addicting drug like heroin? Alcohol is addicting, but no where nearly as addicting as heroin. It's just a shame that stupid people like this are allowed to vote!

    April 13, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  57. Mike

    In the last thirty years tobacco smokers have gone from being 56% of the population to only 20% this was acomplished by education,taxes and peer preasure. not one person was arrested and jailed. Prohibition dosn"t work

    April 13, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  58. jk

    It's just perfectly fine ,"culturally acceptable", for people to visit a relative, have a few drinks on Easter Sunday and then drive home????? But I cant smoke a harmless marijuana cigarette in my home. A land of hypocrites. It's truly puzzling. What the eff is immoral about smoking pot? Please someone tell me. Better yet, the people making these rules should give up drinking until they can come up with a logical reason why I can drink a poison that can kill me but cant smoke a harmless joint. People need to get a grip! What are we going to do next start hunting witches again. S@#t ! I need a drink where's my Johnny Walker.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  59. Kate

    I lost my daughter to Herion 2 years ago. She was in and out of jail. The state doesn't care about these lost souls. I use to call her probation officer and tell him where she was getting high, he didn't care. My heart goes out to the parents because you try to look for answers, but you never find them. If the US was doing their jobs at the border we would have less drugs. My daughter took pictures of the limos that would pull into the projects and drop off the dope. Don't kid yourself, where there is big money there is somone out there crooked and getting their share. You think the police would notice a white, blonde going into the projects.....

    April 13, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  60. Anthony

    To freeb.
    Obviously you are unfamiliar with drugs and their effects. People who smoke pot are less likely to leave the comforts of their surroundings to go out and buy more beer or leave a bar. Ii'd be willing to wager that there are many more *stoned* people driving than there are drunk. Driving stoned is considereably less dangerous than driving drunk. I know, I used to do it all the time many years ago. Now driving while on LSD....thats a different story altogether.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  61. Liza

    My 25 year old brother passed away from a heroin overdose 1 month ago today. Addiction is a disease. Whether the drug is legal or not, people will still have this disease. It's not a matter of legality, it's a matter of supporting our youth so they never begin (even if it is a forced support). For those that are using, it is also a matter of support, education, and understanding. Whether we want to help or not, or it is a moral issue for us, we need to always remember that people are people, whether they are using or not, they are still human and should be treated humanely with care and compassion.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  62. ARUN H. KOTHARI

    I fully endorse the view to legalises"drugs" and thereby take away the violence,monetary reward and crime that goes with the drug trade.
    I fully endorse the need to continually educate young minds in the horrors of drug/alcohol and tobacco both at home and at school.This education and basic ethics need to be a regular item in all levels of study.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  63. Jim

    I wish they would legalize pot too, so potheads can stop talking about it. Funny, every article on any drug and they start spouting how great pot is.

    I've known several potheads and they all seem to have some permanent damage to me.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  64. Mobius

    Why are illegal drugs cheaper? Because alcohol's taxed to death like everything else.

    Marijuana deaths this (and the last) millennium: ZERO

    April 13, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  65. tom

    Message to marah – since you have internet access, google heroin or overdose to get your answers

    April 13, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  66. William

    The former DEA agent was given pass by the host on his false claims that "virtually all the studies show that legalization would significally increase drug use. Zogby did a 2007 where it asked over a 1,000 likely voters if they would use hard drugs if they were legal. 99% answered NO. Then the host, misquoted a fact on Alaska's pot laws. So neither side could prove their points on the effects of legalization.

    This girl featured in the story who died from a heroin overdose, would most likely be alive if she buy the drug legally and had some quality control of the product. Who knows what that fatal dose was cut with? And what responsibilty does she bear for willingly taking the drug?

    April 13, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  67. SaintGenesius

    The United State's "War On Drugs" is now decades old and an utter failure. Drugs are cheaper and more plentiful than ever in our recent history. Drug overdoses seem to be rising and we are spending billions of dollars on this farce.

    Something on the order of 80 percent of people in jail and prison are there at least partially because of drug charges. Mexican drug gangs are rising in power and danger.

    It is time to decriminalize drugs, make them available legally to addicts and use a fraction of the enormous amounts of money we spend trying to prevent drugs from getting into the country on rehabilitaion programs.

    Drugs are not a criminal justice issue, they are a healthcare and social issue.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  68. John

    I don't really agree with the whole thought process of legalizing drugs for sale by the government. Where would we get them from in the short term? Other countries black markets. I'd like to ask the Mexican population how they would feel about their drug cartels getting a fresh influx of capitol? A bailout for the drug lords, wonderful. That is also presuming that other countries must follow suit and do so quickly or we risk destabilizing their governments and becoming even more of a black sheep in the global community.

    Maybe some day we will have to expect people to be accountable, stop holding everyone's hands and helping them destroy themselves. Handing out more welfare sure helped that problem...

    April 13, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  69. Eric

    When people bought legal heroin on the streets in the early 1900's no one died. People didn't start dying from heroin until it became illegal. Why? When you buy from the black market you don't know what you are getting, you don't know the purity or what other substances it is mixed with. This is another reason why prohibition fails!

    April 13, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  70. Matt

    I think Harold Archibald's comment is dead on... which is why I just want to copy and paste it for some of you who might have missed this person's intelligence"

    I have worked in prisons all my life. Prison does not deter people from selling or using drugs.
    Any drug death is a tragedy, but prohibition never works, it only makes the problems associated with the drug worse. Education and understanding can help minimize the harmful effects of drugs but the sad truth is that where there is profit to be made, people will find a way to sell illegal drugs and the problems will multiply and fester.
    Alcohol and tobacco are socially acceptable drugs. Media tends to glamorize wine and scotch whiskey, as well as cigars.
    Nobody is out there lobbying for a return to alcohol prohibition or prohibition of tobacco, but a teenage alcohol death is just as tragic as a teenage heroin death and tobacco is harder to quit than pot, but our society glorifies alcohol use and tolerates tobacco addiction.
    There are tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths each year attributable in one way or another to alcohol and tobacco, but as drugs, alcohol and tobacco are taken for granted in our country.
    Keeping drugs illegal feeds money to criminals and keeps drug use so secret, that often families and communities don’t know what they are really up against, as in the case in this story here.
    For me the question is, “if other drugs were legalized, would they cause as much harm or more than current alcohol and tobacco problems, and would the harm that they cause be greater than the harm caused by keeping them illegal?

    April 13, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  71. Anna in the Three Village District

    Heroin addiction in Suffolk County (NY) is rampant. No one would ever suspect that their child is partaking of this drug, but heed my words ... get your proverbial head out of the sand ... there are a huge number of kids doing heroin!

    One of the most frustrating tasks is getting clinical help, unless you have a great insurance plan or a lot of money. Don't let anyone fool you, there IS a stigma attached to anyone who is labeled as a heroin user, and unfortunately to the parents as well, but if you're in that position just ignore it ... getting help for your child is more important than what others think of you! (Mather Hospital, Port Jefferson, has a very good Outpatient program).

    Meetings are great for those people who have willpower and are willing to make a commitment, but sadly heroin addicts are more likely to fail and start using again.

    Trying to get rid of the dealers is almost impossible as the police want the big fish to fry – they are not interested in the small time dealers. Although for us parents, the small fish are the ones who are killing our children. No matter how big they are in the scheme of things, ALL dealers should be punished!

    Finally, the most important thing to remember ... heroin users are liars! They will convince you nothing is wrong, that you're crazy for suggesting that they may be using drugs. Follow your gut instinct/intuition buying a drug testing kit is easy they are available at most pharmacies. The pharmacist is a great start, share with him/her what you think is going on, they will help you pick out the right kit.

    Knowledge is power!

    April 13, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  72. NoWay

    Naive dreamers! If you legalize drugs, there will be always a question of price. If you make it $50, then bad guys will sell for $30, and if you make it $5, tomorrow 25% will not come to work. And only naive people may suggest that all criminals immediately go to college. They always find some ways to gain illegally, unless we throw away all criminal and other codes and make it all legal.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  73. Eric M

    Yknow what? If we legalized theft, rape, and murder we could lower crime!! Legalize it, regulate it, and tax it!! Put the money into anti-violent crime education.

    That seems like a completely ludicrous comment, doesn't it? Let's try something a little closer:

    If we legalized prostitution, we could lower crime!! Legalize it, regulate it, and tax it!!! Put the money into STD education & treatment.

    So goes the argument with drugs. Like either of the above examples (the letter of which is actually being pursued), legalization does not keep people from being victimized. It exposes the law abiding to greater risks, and it amounts to a silent consent of these practices.

    Irony for those saying marijuana isn't a "gateway" drug....most of the "legalize it" chatter started with marijuana, and has since expanded to all drugs.

    We can't keep booze and cigarettes out of the hands of kids. What's the reaction going to be when another Natalie can get HEROIN by having an older friend or sibling pick it up from 7-Eleven or Wal*Mart??

    April 13, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  74. Matthew

    I can't take these articles seriously with such sensationalist headlines. A single bag of heroin might be cheaper than a six pack of beer, but a single bag of heroin is not enough to get an addict high. Comparing a six pack of beer and a single bag of heroin is like comparing 6 ambien with 1 vicodin. They are not comparable in any way, but fear brings in ratings and ratings bring in ad revenues. When ad revenues are all that matter, real journalism takes a back seat to trash like this.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  75. zippie26

    Marah, heroin is an opiate, meaning it comes from the poppy plant. It is a "downer", meaning it makes your body systems like breathing, heart rate, etc. go slower. If you take too much it interferes with your body to the point where you stop breathing and die. The problem is that when you get heroin on the street, like most people do because its illegal to get anywhere else, you never know how strong it is. If you use it, your body may be used to a certain amount, bit when you get more it could be much stronger than you are used to and can cause you to overdose when you use it. When that happens, you can easily die.

    Heroin is dumb. Actually all illegal drugs are dumb, some legal ones are too.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  76. Josh Harden

    For everyone arguing and stating that "hemp" and "marijuana" is just a plant that grows from the ground, that can "stand on it's own" to quote an above poster; do you not realize where "heroin" comes from? The opium poppy is just as much of a plant as marijuana is.

    The real reason so many overdoses happen isn't due to the "purity" of the drug, but due to mis-education and the complete and total lack of harm reduction information and techniques. Perhaps if she knew the interactions between heroin and anything else she was taking, along with how much can be TOO much when you're opiate intolerant (meaning someone who hasn't done copious amounts of opiates over a period of time,) she might be still be alive today. She might not.

    The point is, there is a responsibility to the public to get information and harm reduction techniques/literature made public and actually talked about to our youth, lower/middle/upper class, basically anyone and everyone, instead of hiding behind some stigmatized view that these drugs are "terrible and the devil's work!!!" Inform and Educate; people are always going to make their own choices, but at least when they do so they'll have a better idea about what they're doing.

    -josh

    April 13, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  77. Legalized Drugs

    DRUGS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, DRUG LAWS KILL PEOPLE.

    The drug dealing, distributing and producing vermin are killing one another to control the obscene amounts of money that surround the use of "illegal drugs" used extensively throughout the United States.

    After 100 YEARS, it is fairly safe to conclude the WAR ON DRUGS is a failure that has not in any way shape or form reduced or eliminated drug use in the United States, a new approach must therefore be necessary.

    My humble suggestion. Legalize all drugs immediately. Why you ask?

    1) Simple.... rediculous numbers of people around the world are being killed and injured by drug cartels and terrorist organizations.

    2) In banning drug use, the United States has created a lucrative funding source to cartels, gangs and terrorists.

    3) These products, and they are products; are in high demand and always will be. The prohibition era proved that prohibiting something so widely desired, can't work. The violence seen during that era is the same that is building in this era.

    No, it is time to legalize drugs. Time to control them. Time to tax them, just as tobacco and alcohol is taxed today.

    Take the revenue currently going to drug cartels and terrorists and drive it into regulation, education, rehabilitation and prevention, just like is done with tobacco and alcohol.

    Take the money you save maintianing the "Anti-Drug Police State" and reduce the deficit.

    Use the jail space currently wasted on "drug-offenders" and use it to jail the real criminals who live on Wall Street and in the Boardrooms of America.

    Make all drugs legal and strike a blow against gangs and terrorists.

    It is time to turn drug use from a drain on public resources, into an industry creates good jobs and which pays for the damage which it creates.

    WAKE UP !

    Do what you're doing and you'll get what you're getting. Time for an intelligent, rational choice America.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  78. David

    I agree with most of the comments regarding legalization of all drugs. The fact is that it's easier for our kids to obtain heroin than it is for them to get beer or cigarettes. Right now, control is in the hands of the cartels than manufacture and distribute, and they have no compunction to sell to our children. This will only end when the economic incentive is removed, and the sale of all drugs is regulated the way alcohol and cigarettes are regulated. Legalize the subtances, tax them, control the sale and make penalties for criminal behavior under the influence sufficent to deter such behavoir. Unfortunately, Americans tend to view this issue through an emotional (and religious) lens. Those people who support prohibition are not looking rationally at the problem. As a parent, I don't want my kids anywhere near these drugs, but as things are, they are more likely to be exposed at school where I have no visibility. If the cartels were shut down from legalization and drugs were sold through regulated distribution channels, I would be much more assured that my kids were not able to buy. As far as adults go, what someone puts into their own body is their business alone. From a societal perspective, taxation from the sales could be used to provide treatment and education which is a far better approach than incarceration.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  79. Joey from Cherokee

    It seems if our government ( government past i mean) has not evolved into a more conscious body that we need for todays changed time. I am 20 years old and I could tell you more about prescription and illegal drugs than most senators and government officials.

    I personally believe that education is the seed that will help alleviate this problem of "war on drugs" (more like war on citizens!). As a young person, i was never really educated in a classroom setting on theses types of issues. Learning to do SOHCAHTOA was i reckon. I learned how to and not how to do some of these drugs with my friends and around the neighborhood.

    I am tired of seeing Native Americans holding all of the number one spots of highest drugs use, alcohol use, diabetes. And we probably have the lowest total whole number as a ethnicity. I had to say a little something about this issue since Native Americans are only mentioned when is comes to these facts.

    It is sad to hear about this girl dying from heroine. If it isn't green, it isn't clean. It is time for government present to see that change that needs to be made immediately rather than keeping up with the same failing policies. And if Obama doesn't recognize the calling from his fellow citizens, is he and the rest of them really keeping OUR best interest in mind?...

    April 13, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  80. Allen

    As a former drug addict who was hooked on getting wasted (pills, pot, narcotics, pyschedelic drugs) to ease the pain of life for over 13 years – the thought of a heroin high as cheap as a 6 pack of beer is both enticing and terrifying. I simply can't use again (even once) or I will lose everything, so I pray and know that God will protect me from this scourge.

    and I stay FAR away from the culture of people and former friends that are using.

    As a parent with a 13 year old who comes from a family with a history of addiction – it is beyond terrifying to consider that the $20 I give my son to go to the mall could potentially go not to the movies and a t-shirt, but rather to ultimately finance the Mexican drug cartels thru the purchase of 3 bags of 70%!! pure Mexican heroin. We have to educate our children and the schools on this incredible danger.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  81. Prosecut them with our tax $$

    I find it sorry that we spend so much money (billions) on prosecuting, fining and imprisoning these addicted users but when it actually comes to solving these types of problems we spend a fraction for selfawareness and tretment type programs. I like to see more of it but i"m not holding my breath.
    Really we should just legalize everything to weed out our society and then just then we will see who the good parents on the block and the ones who shouldn't be parents because they are too scared to talk with their children about consequences of AB-using drugs.
    Sad story for sure though

    April 13, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  82. j_dickerson

    My oldest daughter is a Heroin addict. I tried for 8 yrs. Rehab 3 times, out patient programs and detox. I now live alone. My daughter does not know where I live and does not have my phone number.
    There is just to much of it in the States.

    joel

    April 13, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  83. Andreas

    it will probably take a few more deaths and misfortunes before anything is really done

    April 13, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  84. Gary

    My daughter is 19; she has lost 3 schoolmates to heroin in the last two years. She told me that one of her 1st boyfriendswhen she was 16 took her over the border to Mexico to get a drink (we live in the San Diego area). He left 'to go to the bathroom' and disappeared. She walked back across the border alone and found him passed out in her car, the needle still hanging out of his arm. She knows that many other kids in our affluent suburb also use heroin but don't inject. The 1960's heroin stereotype of the urban low-income drug user is gone; these are high-school students. Anyone who thinks that America in any way is adequately securing the health and welfare of its citizens vis a vis drugs, or that we are winning the war against drugs, is woefully uninformed. So many more people die from drugs than from terrorism – but where are we spending the billions? Paranoia and racism govern our allocation of budget, not reality. Otherwise we'd drop Iraq, Afghanistan, and Homeland Security like a rock, and start actually eradicating the drug cartels that murder our children, friends, and countrymen every day.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  85. Russ

    Thats what happens when government taxes legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol to the point it is cheaper to get something better and worthwhile....

    marxism never works except on paper.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  86. forksmuggler

    Ironic that this story is under the heading "AM Fix."

    April 13, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  87. freeb

    Legalizing anything is the same as culturally accepting it's OK, and like alcohol, once you do it, it's nearly impossible to turn back. I don't know about you but the last thing I want are more people on the roads driving cars while drunk AND high. There is enough of those people on the road today...you back legalizing pot, you chould be charged with accessory to murder each time a person is killed by a pot smoking, drunk

    April 13, 2009 at 10:18 am |
  88. Bremerton

    We didn't "skip a generation in education" – programs like D.A.R.E. just don't work.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  89. marah

    what's heroin and whats (over-dosed) is it when u have 2 much??

    April 13, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  90. Connie In Cleveland

    Today on CNN, they are discussing legalizing all drugs. I think that is a trip down an 'un-winnable road'. Many individuals who support cannabis legalization, do not support legalization of all drugs. I believe it is spin, being used to spin the cannabis hemp issue into a harder to defend category.

    Cannabis hemp is a plant, which can stands on it's own. The inclusion of cannabis in the war on drugs is what has led to the prison problems of today. Talking about legalizing all drugs, is a distraction.

    Respected voices of reason from our past, have been omitted from America history today. It's no wonder they ignore the voices of reason today. They are allowed to omit the voices of reason from yesterday. It's an "Assault on Reason".

    "Prohibition... goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded" -Abraham Lincoln

    "The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this." – Albert Einstein quote on Hemp

    "The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world." – Carl Sagan, renown scientist, astronomer, astrochemist, author and TV host

    April 13, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  91. Richard Althouse

    I've worked in prisons for over 30 years and have watched the impact of criminalizing substance use has had on our society. I can say that the death of Natalie Ciappa from an overdose of heroin is simply one of many tens of thousands such deaths since America's politically expedient but systemically short-sighted war on drugs that followed the end of prohibition. Instead of containing and minimizing drug use among Americans, criminalizing illicit drug use to control supply and demand has simply fanned what was a non-signicant issue at the turn of the 20th century into a highly profitable semi-global and violent pandemic, just as it did with alcohol during prohibition. As it's currently being implemented, the War on Drugs is not winnable. The real solutions have to be systemic, and involve taking the profit out of the illicit drug marketplace by legalizing then controlling the manufacture of certain substances, educating potential substance abusers, treating those who wish it (maybe even some who don't), and augmenting punishments for otherwise illegal behavior that are related to illicit drug use, just as we do alcohol. Anything less than a systemic four-pronged approach will simlply be playing around the margins of this ridiculous state of affairs. Until then, we can anticipate many more deaths just like Ms. Ciappa's. As long as lawmakers make no substantive changes in fighting this war, then we should simply accept these deaths as a casualty of a war we apparently are willing to keep fighting in the way we're fighting it, and quit complaining about them.

    April 13, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  92. Michael

    I feel sorry about any parents that have to lose their child, especially lethal drugs like heroin crack and so on. I believe that lethal drugs should never be legalized. I feel that marijuana should be legalized with the way that the economy is because it is a huge cash crop even more than corn. The government could use part of the profit to put more emphasis on getting these dealers who sell lethal drugs to children and teenagers off the streets. I don't smoke pot but know people that do and they are the most relaxed people that I have ever met, they don't fight they don't steal stuff like steaks and baby formula and most of all it isn't nearly as addicting as heroin, meth and coke.

    April 13, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  93. martin

    prohibition never works. even Abe Lincoln was staunchly against it.

    April 13, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  94. Dexter Gilbert

    In no way do the advocates of drug legalization advocate increased drug use. It is quite the opposite. We must curb the drug use first by preventing our children access to these substances. The only way to curb access is to control distribution. Drug dealers do not care who purchases their drugs. There is certainly nobody checking IDs.

    A whole society which does advocate drugs has been created by the War on Drugs itself. Our mission is currently self defeating. Gangs roam our inner cities and innocent lives are lost on a daily basis. Children have easy access to inexpensive illicit drugs. We cannot win in this manner.

    Legalizition will immediately eliminate most drug related crime and violence. The addicts will no longer be on a perpetual search for their fix. It is now readily available to them. Before, their whole life was driven by their ability to find another fix. Will it be available or not? Will it be safe or not? How long will they suffer before they find their crutch?

    We say give them their crutch and many will learn to walk on their own again. End this war and you will destroy the society that is causing your children to even be exposed to drugs in the first place. The addicts will be reduced on the front end because new users will be greatly reduced. Educate America's children rather than threaten their freedom in a society created not by them, but by or legal system itself.

    Continuing prohibitionist policies only means that we have no faith in the American people to control theirselves. Personally, I think this attitude is ridiculous. End the war and put our faith back in the American people. They will get the job done where our legal system has failed miserably.

    Best Regards,
    Dexter Gilbert

    April 13, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  95. Jack Lohman

    Let’s look at the two extremes before deciding this. Think wildly for a moment. Unconventionally. What would happen if the government offered totally free drugs to users? We could take bids from Mexico and Afghanistan and get the cheapest price, then give them away or sell them at cost to people who are stupid enough to trash their life. We’d take 100% of the profit out of illegal drug sales so there’d be no more profits to fight over.

    See "The drug war: When to stop digging?" at http://moneyedpoliticians.net/2009/03/18/the-drug-war/

    An no, I'm not necessarily suggesting free, but we must take the profit out.

    April 13, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  96. Jim Green, Seguin, TX www.Inclusivism.org

    President Obama: THE “MORAL” ISSUE RE POT

    It is “immoral” not to decriminalize it.

    For clarity, I will be 75 next month. For my generation, and growing up in El Dorado, Kansas, beer was our drug of choice.

    We all bought into the propaganda that it would make you “crazy”—I don’t recall of any fellow student that smoked pot.

    By the time my children came along—I don’t know of any of their friends that didn’t smoke pot.

    Clarence Darrow averred that “Laws should be like clothes–tailored to fit the people who wear them.” The majority of Americans support the decriminalization of marijuana.

    But that is not the only reason it is “immoral” not to decriminalize pot. The issue is the damage caused both to persons and to the larger society by continuing to make it unlawful:

    1) We could cut our prison population almost in half, and at a savings of tens of billions of dollars annually to the taxpayer—who is being “punished”, here, the pot smoker or the taxpayer?
    2) The personal damage caused to persons, and to the larger society by locking up pot smokers, is incalculable. By not decriminalizing pot we daily turn non-violent persons into violent career criminals!
    3) By not re-classifying pot (with the stroke of a pen), and placing it in the same category with alcohol and tobacco—we are losing tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue.
    4) This past week Harvard professor Jeffrey Miron calculated that the savings in arrest, conviction, and incarceration—combined with the revenue from taxation could infuse almost $80 billion annually into our economy.

    And while it is true, that this sum, alone, cannot turn our economy around (as suggested in the virtual town hall meeting 3-26-09)—it is hardly insubstantial, and is it not “immoral”, given the above and the gravity of the task at hand, to dismiss it out of hand?

    Jim Green—former Chief Probation Officer, district courts , Topeka, Kansas—Parole Officer, U.S. Bureau of Prisons (20 years experience in our criminal justice system—retired) http://www.Inclusivism.org

    April 13, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  97. Kyle

    Drugs are all around us. You can't watch tv anymore without being hit with a perscription medication comercial that tells you to take somthing u don't need! This country needs to rethink how it deals with drugs. Quick!

    April 13, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  98. Paul

    My heart goes out to the family. I'm an 42 year old alcoholic who has been sober for 8 months. I had to stop after I nearly lost everything including my life. I have to turn myself in in june to serve 45 days in jail. This will definitely affect my whole life more than it has been affected. Addiction is such a selfish disease that takes over 'everything and everybody'. I am barely begining to understand this disease. As much as I wanted to stop I just couldn't get myself to do so. Unfortunately, the few that stop are the ones that have hit some sort of 'rock-bottom' and have lived to experience it. Although I grew up in a very religious environment and clearly understood that "drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God" this was not enough for me. Even though I have a wonderful wife and beautiful kids, this was not enough.... I am now struggling with dealing with ALL my stress, issues, problems in a sober state of mind which I have never really done before and is not easy (a hangover was easier to deal with). I am battling a self-hate & depression. I now give thanks to God and my family for not giving up on me and being there to support me through this ordeal. I also want to thank AA for all the support I get there. Educating the young ones on the dangers of addiction is vital/important, take them to hospitals and clinics who treat the severly sick so that they will be shocked from the consequences. Also, those who are addicted should be in clinics not jails. Don't put a band-aid on a wound that requires stiches.

    April 13, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  99. Harold Archibald

    I have worked in prisons all my life. Prison does not deter people from selling or using drugs.
    Any drug death is a tragedy, but prohibition never works, it only makes the problems associated with the drug worse. Education and understanding can help minimize the harmful effects of drugs but the sad truth is that where there is profit to be made, people will find a way to sell illegal drugs and the problems will multiply and fester.
    Alcohol and tobacco are socially acceptable drugs. Media tends to glamorize wine and scotch whiskey, as well as cigars.
    Nobody is out there lobbying for a return to alcohol prohibition or prohibition of tobacco, but a teenage alcohol death is just as tragic as a teenage heroin death and tobacco is harder to quit than pot, but our society glorifies alcohol use and tolerates tobacco addiction.
    There are tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths each year attributable in one way or another to alcohol and tobacco, but as drugs, alcohol and tobacco are taken for granted in our country.
    Keeping drugs illegal feeds money to criminals and keeps drug use so secret, that often families and communities don't know what they are really up against, as in the case in this story here.
    For me the question is, “if other drugs were legalized, would they cause as much harm or more than current alcohol and tobacco problems, and would the harm that they cause be greater than the harm caused by keeping them illegal?

    April 13, 2009 at 8:11 am |
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