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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 (382 Responses)
  1. James Abrams

    I am a 36 year old recovering addict. It amazes me when I see young faces in meetings. I am hopeful for them all, but unfourtunalty they don't stick around long onough and go back out. I really wish schools would include the fact that drug addiction is a disease, a fatal one. More needs to be said about this fact. I struggle daily with my disease and pray that my sons will learn from my mistakes in life. Just for today I am hopful.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  2. Steph

    For three of my four years in high school I did heroin. Every once in a blue moon my friends and I would buy crack to go with the heroin. I snorted heroin due to small veins and I am so thankful that is all I did. Had I started out by shooting it, I would defintely not be the college graduate I am today. I feel so bad for the parents of this girl and parents of any child who's life is lost. Don't blame yourself though, teenagers are going to do what they want, one way or another. My parents were ultra-strict and I still found ways around their rule to do what I wanted. Looking back I see how dangerous these drugs were, but I dont regret anything I have done... it has made me who I am today. That being said I feel that we shouldn't legalize heroin. Pot, yes. Heroin and Coke, No. Many people feel marijiuana is a gateway drug but I knew plenty of kids growing up who smoked pot and never moved on. I think if you taxed the hell out of it and quit putting teenagers and adults in jail who sold/distributed/ used it then we would be making money on something that half the population has tried. We are wasting money on prosecuting and conatining people who are doing a drug that is on the level with alcohol. People die in alcohol related incidents unfortunatley but people also die from peanuts. I am sick of people saying that drugs are immoral. Perhaps to you, but why spend tons of money fighting pot when we could make money taxing it.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  3. Tao

    As a Marijuana user I think it is harmless to some extension, and it has some benefits on the other hand. If you abuse or use it at improper times, it is not good, but isn't that so with alcohol, and with ANYTHING? It is all about education. But a lot of that was said here already. What I want to add is that if I have the option to buy it legally, EVEN if there would still be illegal offers for half the price, I'd go with the legal one for sure!!! Even if they ID me and if I have to pay more for it. The reason is obvious, I don't want to fuel the crime! You may say that I am doing so now by buying illegal, and that is true, but ultimately who is doing this is who give us no other option because they decide to define it as illegal: the government.
    Then one may say: but you have the option, just don't use it. And then, I should be forbid of using something I enjoy and that do not lead me to do anything wrong (hurt people, rob, etc), just because it is said so? So, to whoever raise this argument, do you know that sugar is not good for you? A lot of people (health professionals) would defend this point. What do you think if the government make it illegal? Does it make sense for you? Well, it gives a high, it is addictive to some degree, some would say it is not healthy. But using it or not should be your decision, right? You should know what is not good in it, or if it is just when abusing it, etc, and then decide right? Education, education, education.
    Same is valid for all drugs. making them illegal does not make people use it less. People are using it and getting bad labels for that, and dying. If they are legal they can be better educated, not be labeled as criminals, make better choices with more information and support.
    This would not be sending the message that we support drug use. It would say that whoever uses it is not criminal, but the education side would say it can be dangerous and that you should not do it. If you abuse, you may need treatment, it is like a sickness and no one likes being sick.
    Someone said above that if we think of legalizing drugs, this would be the same as legalizing rape, prostitution, etc. Well I think that if something hurts others (like rape, killing, robbing, etc), it is a crime. If not, it is not a crime. Using drugs shouldn't be a crime. And by the way, nor should prostitution. These things should be regulated, and that's all.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  4. martin0641

    Several people here have failed to make the distinction between a personal choice and depriving others of liberty. Legalizing rape and murder is not remotely similar to legalization of drugs and prostitution. As a person who has lived in places where both are legal, I can say from experience that having it that way is the more intelligent choice. Drug prohibition does not result in it's claimed goal, drug use reduction, as such it should be abandoned because of all the negative forces it creates.

    Prostitution a problem? Exactly what is the problem here? Sex is the only thing you can give away, but you can't sell. Properly regulated and controlled, all things strike a balance. You can't ban human nature and human cravings, you'll just drive them underground and it will result will be worst than the original thing you attempted to ban.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  5. Jarrod

    Marijuana use harms noone. My body, my choice. As Thomas Jefferson said " some of my best days have been spent smoking hemp, enjoying the view" . Plus , Im surrounded by republicans. I need to smoke weed.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  6. Jim

    No one wants to see a child strung out. But if you're of age, it's all up to you. What you do with your own body is no one's business but your own.

    These alcohol-guzzling parents that get all upset when their kids do heroin really make me laugh. They're all addicted too, but they won't even acknowledge it.

    People will do what they will do. Suck it up.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  7. KC

    Ok, I'm sorry but knowing people who have had problems with hard drugs (meth & heroin) drugs– NO they shouldn't be legal. I know people who have destroyed their lives from using drugs. And now they have pretty much no chance at a future. Making this legal only makes it easier to get addicted to these VERY addictive drugs.

    And for all you people who think marijuana is harmless- I used to think that too. Until I fell in love with a guy who turned into a complete pothead. I watched him destroy what he called the best thing he ever had because he had no motivation, spend all his money on weed, risk his job and make poor decisions. A person who was once intelligent, sweet and motivated turned into a lazy, poor, jerk who smoked pot all the time. It became the most important thing to him.

    So DO NOT tell me that marijuana is harmless. Yes, many people smoke it socially and lead normal lives. But it has the potential to be harmful as well.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  8. Faulpelz

    So much for winning the war on drugs. And we spend so damn much money trying to prove the illusion that we can win.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  9. Patrick

    Smoking weed is fun....and not as dangerous as alcohol. Plus you can put it in brownies.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  10. Shannon

    China had the same problem during the Opium Wars. How did they fix the problem? They legalized opium, put those who were addicted into rehab and shot the drug dealers. The decrease in use and criminality declined rapidly.

    Granted there are many addicts all over the world but in the USA we have won the prize as the biggest drug consuming nation on earth. Lucky us!

    My old man use to say "legalize it, tax it and arrest the dealers" Then put anyone stupid enough to import or deal drugs in jail for life..

    However, in this country if you try bringing legalization up you are considered a drug wacko, a communist and a moral degenerate. Go figure!

    The “War on Dugs” is a joke. We are locking people for using, selling and importing drugs in a never ending cycle that costs us money and manpower. We are employing thousands of well intended people to arrest, prosecute and jail them. We send billions of dollars to the very countries that are shipping the stuff to us in hope that they do the right thing and ironically we are making Billionaires out of the worst possible scum.

    And you wonder why Judy & Johnny are so screwed up? Get Real!

    We don't need more dead kids, drug crazed addicts, gun fights and murders, roberies or assaults and billions upon billions of so called money to fight the War On Drugs.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  11. Jerry of Madison, WI

    The "War on Drugs" was never truly fought. Legalizing drugs is a cop-out that would lead to disasterous effects.

    Want to fight a "real" war on drugs... here's how:

    Start taking border security seriously. As long as you have a border in which literally millions of people can just walk across illegally (with a backpack full of drugs), you'll never be able to reduce the supply.

    Stop putting drug users in prison, put them in rehab instead. Take the money you save from putting all those people in prison, and use that to fund more rehab facilities.

    D.A.R.E. doesn't work, but overall education does. Change the ways schools are funded. Instead of funding by county, make them statewide. Take education $ and distribute it evenly to all areas based on the number of students. End the practice of the rich neighborhoods getting good schools, while low income areas get the crumbling buildings and ridiculously large class sizes.

    Seriously tackle poverty issues. Poverty feeds people into gangs. Poverty and lack of education are greater predictors of crime and addiction than any other causes. Get serious about rebuilding inner city neighborhoods, and bringing businesses (and jobs) back to the inner cities. Statistics and history have proven time and again that if given access to quality education and a job, people will turn away from crime and drug use.

    Stop concentrating low income housing into specific areas, require that all neighborhoods have housing of several different economic levels mixed together. A property is more likely to be kept up, if it is surrounded by other kept up properties. But concentrating low income housing into the worst areas of town, just continues to feed the never ending downward cycle.

    Expand public transportation. If someone can't afford a car, they can only work if bus service extends to where the jobs are, or if they are within walking distance. As jobs move farther and farther from low income areas, it becomes increasinly harder for those who want to work their way out, to get a decent job.

    I could go on, but perhaps you get the point. Drug use is a symptom of larger problems. You can't decrease drug use without first addressing the causes. It has nothing to do with whether it is legal or illegal. Most people who use drugs do it to escape what they believe to be a worse situation (regardless of how much money they make).

    "Illegal" drugs are illegal for a very good reason. Keep them illegal, and start fixing the reasons people resort to using the drugs in the first place. Making them legal would only make matters worse.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  12. Ken

    If we give them all the heroin they want then the next thing they will be stealing from you to support their habit or even worse kill. So I would agree with you if wwe could also ship them to a deserted island.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  13. C.

    No, drugs should not be legalized.
    Murder happens every day, should there be no punishment for murderers? Should we just make it legal because people do it anyway?

    Fighting for justice is hard- do it anyway.
    Protecting our children is hard- don't give up.
    There are bad people in this world that are willing to hurt our children, to take advantage of them and profit from them.
    Our children must be our number one priority, when our civilization crumbles so low that it's ok for our children to be used and abused and anything goes then there will nothing left.

    I do believe that the number of good people are more numerous than the bad, don't give up!

    April 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  14. Sean

    It doesnt matter that heroin is cheaper than beer, considering that its actually harder for kids to get beer than it is to get heroin.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  15. Lissa

    I would always say to my husband, "Once an addict, always an addict". He overdosed several times and was brought back saying he would never do that to his family and friends again. I truly believed he meant it in his heart, but the addiction to heroin is just too strong. There were countless rehab attempts, and many close friends that also died. He started using when he was 13 yrs old, and I was told by one of his close friends later that he described being "in love" with heroin. When we first got together, he wasn't using and I was extremely naive to what our future would be. He did try to quit, even one time for 4 years, but he couldn't stay away from it, the lifestyle, people he had grown up with.

    One day when I came home from work with our 2 1/2 year old son, we found him lifeless on our kitchen floor and this time he was gone. That will be 17 years ago the end of this month. I learned through much therapy not to blame myself and in fact, the same friend mentioned above had told me I had given him every opportunity to change his life with a home, child, job, etc., but the drug was just too powerful. He made that choice, not me.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  16. Cliff Schaffer

    Kirk from Los Angeles said:

    "I live in California and we are drug free. Everyone in High School signs an abstinance form"

    You ought to be a comedian. My own kids went through high school and watched about a dozen of their friends die from drugs. In every case, the drug was alcohol. Yeah, their schools had the same "abstinence" programs, too.

    As for being drug-free, obviously you haven't noticed all the places selling booze and cigarettes. Just FYI, your teen friends are about 50 times as likely to wind up dying from the effects of booze or cigarettes than from any illegal drug.

    And, also FYI, the biggest single cause of drug epidemics among US children is hysterical, misguided anti-drug campaigns. You can read about lots of examples in Licit and Illicit Drugs at

    April 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  17. Dani G.

    I have lost two friends to heroin overdose in less than six months. One of them died a week ago today. It's still surreal...I still want to call or text him. However, I can do that all I want and I'll never get an answer. He's never coming back, and that is what's so heart wrenching. It makes me sick, and angry, to watch such a bright light of a life be snuffed out because of heroin use. His death was preventable.

    My friends were like Natalie...good students, had a lot going for them. I think about their deaths and say "It's so stupid! It's such a careless way to die." The drug problems are starting to rear their ugly heads in North Texas. It's taken so many young lives here.

    If you're reading this article, and you think a family member, a friend or even an acquaintance is having trouble with drugs, please try to help them. So many of these young addicts feel like they have no where to go, their families will be angry with them and that no one will care enough to help. Prove them wrong.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  18. Jarrod

    all the fear here: "I dont want it legal, there will be potheads on the road" or "all drug people should be shot". WHY? Um, there are 31 million potheads in this country. Government data shows they actually drive safer under the influence.. the DEA shelved that report when it didnt fit the drugs are evil approach. And why should someone should be shot over weed? I have never been unemployed , and I have smoked pot a decade. I am an artist, and it helps the guitar playing. It also helps me meditate, and I find it spiritual. It helps me look within, and find ways to improve my life. All the funny 'loser pot user' stereotypes just dont seem to hold true.. my pothead friends are graphic designers, sound mixers, shoot and mix film, areas where an artistic eye is needed. The only people that fear pot are the ones with no idea.
    I fear drunk angry testosterone pumped men, but not potheads.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  19. Jimmy D

    Pluto wrote: "Darwin says we should give them all the heroin they want and see what happens."

    I agree with Darwin.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  20. Kirkland

    I live in California and we are drug free. Everyone in High School signs an abstinance form

    Kirk – Los Angeles

    April 13, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  21. Sam

    Not only is it cheaper than a six-pack, but if you're under 21, it's easier to buy than a six-pack.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  22. Ron

    This is not about black and white. This is about or friends and families....I think it is sad, and yes this has gone on for years for many cultures. Hell I am a black man.

    The question is how can we stop this senseless destruction? If I am correct, I don't think anyone here wants to see this happen to any one. Are we really that cruel to say that we should legalize this stuff and put legal support behind it saying it is ok to shoot up?

    Mom's and Dad's would you feel any more safe or comforted that cocaine, heroin, or (whatever) was legal, and that you 15 year old can now go to the store or local vending machine with or without you knowing? Do you mean to tell me you can show someone how to use that crap responsibly? The bottom line is that this stuff is harmful and it kills. I don't have to tell you that. Where do we draw the line and say this is wrong. Why not legalize everything...don't stop at drugs.

    From the many posts that I see, we are mostly all caring individuals with the exception of a few.... I know we can do something about this if we starting caring about more than ourselves.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  23. jeff s

    Yes we skipped a generation of education. If you snort it you are very unlikely to overdose. If it were leagle this would not have happend.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  24. J. Jonah Hexas Texas

    We'll never control it. We can't even control it in the prisons, and that's the most controlled environment on the planet. It all boils down to being able to control people and you can't. They have to be able to control themselves. Even being raised right doesn't make you impervious. It truly is a scourge upon America. Nowhere on the planet do you see the drug problems you do in the US.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  25. Clark Hull

    Just because you make something legal does not mean you are writing off the ones who use the substance. Personally I would rather see these substances legalized so that the taxes generated can be used for education and treatment. Plus the substance can be produced under guidelines and regulations that would make the chances of over doses much lower. Prohibition didn't work with alcohol and I believe our stance on the drug problem (it's not a war) has been counter productive for decades. After all, this is a personal choice that will be made whether the substance is legal or not.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  26. Max Education

    The problem with past education, is that it was mostly based on a lie. I went years ago in such education course through college. It was absed on all sort of lie, half truth, on Marijuana, crack, heroin and cockain. Once the kids in the class did uncover the lie opn marijuana they did not believe the truth on ehroine either. 3 of them died subsequently (admitely 1 of AIDS only 2 OD'd) and 1 spent years in prison after the police checked why a kid opf poor suburbs had got a red ferrari (yeah dumb drug dealer).

    Education works ONLY if you tell truth and only truth, and don't try to cover your own bias with Lies. Educator might not like marijuana, but telling lies on it in an attempt to give their own distate to the kids, will lead to the kids not believing the whole.

    And anyway there will ALWAYS be a small eprcentage which will do drug to try it out, or because their life is in the crapper. In as much , what is better ? Prohibition with all its sucesses (*SNOOOORT*) or drug distriubuted by the governement which can control quality, cleaness, and advise the drug user ?

    Same with all other abstinence education anyway. That don't really work.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  27. David

    The argument that legalizing drugs amounts to the same thing as legalizing other crimes like murder and rape is idiotic in the extreme. Drug use, unlike those other crimes, is victimless. The argument that drugs destroy lives can be made for alcohol, gambling, shopping, and even religion. Should we prohibit those things? Whatever happened to personal freedom and personal responsibility? Legalization of drugs is NOT the same thing as condoning their use. If you don't want your kids doing drugs, spend time with them. We should not have to rely on the government to do our parenting for us. And as far as adults are concerned, what someone chooses to put into their body, no matter how stupid, should be their decision alone. The laws should only address what happens when someone who is intoxicated harms someone else. So get off your high moral horse. The cost of the violence created by prohibition, and that fact that it's easier for our kids to get hard drugs than cigarettes, is argument enough to warrant legalization.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  28. John Molina

    I would ask Mrs Ciappa, pray tell who is "they"? Because NO ONE coerced her straight-A, cheerleader daughter into taking heroin! A goreous girl like that is going to garner A LOT of male attention–and most of it ill-intentioned. The DEA man says teenagers are going to be attracted to it becuase they think it is not as dangers, well, a lot of psychological factors are going to enter here, MR BRILLIANT DEA MAN. Both the DEA agent and the parents talk as if "free will" on Natalie's part NEVER EXISTED! We will never get anywhere as long as we have parents and law-enforcement officers with such clouded thinking.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  29. Nan

    I do not think pot or drugs should be legalized. I think we should have MUCH HARDER sentences for people SELLING the drugs instead of slapping them on the wrist. I have personally be affected by parents who had substance abuse problems. I also have a cousin with substance abuse problems. I have had two different families/children dropped at my door because their parents were on drugs. I am not a legal foster parent. I am just a person who they knew would take care of their children while they went on a "drug vacation from life". It cost me a fortune to clothe, house, feed the children but I did the right thing. The kids had only the clothes they were wearing because their parents were evicted again!! The government wouldn't help me with their care but paid the parents all kinds of money that was used for drugs. The parents I delt will had govenment assistance for child care, food cards (which they sold for cash) welfare checks(they spent on drugs and not rent, free medial(the parents didn't use for their kids because they were to high to care), housing assistance...YES YOUR TAX DOLLARS HARD AT WORK SUPPORTING THE ADDICTS AND NOT THEIR CHILDREN and not the people taking care of their children. Even though financially I qualified for a food card....I couldn't receive one to help feed these four kids because I had a 401K even though these kids were not mine. I had to go to food pantries to cover some of our costs because I couldn't afford them and children's services didn't care since the kids were "already in a safe place". Their parents chose drugs over their children. My family and their children paid the price for their addictions. I am not sorry I did the right thing but I am angry at the govenment for paying for their habits and not helping me clean up the mess. I want the people who sold the drugs held accountable for my financial loss and the childrens personal loss. Legalizing drugs won't make it less of a problem, it just gives the government more money because they will tax the sale of drugs. Drug addicts will go and do go toward a life of crime to continue to support their addiction. Our country is a mess. We are paying for the addicts. There should be a limit to how long a person can get welfare just like their is a limit to unemployment. People that get assistance should have to take drug test randomly to get their checks. Stop supporting the addicts. Don't legalize drugs.....get tougher on crimes!!! Legalizing drugs to keep people out of prison is like saying "let's legaling theft to lower our prison costs and overcrowding". If it is wrong, it IS wrong!!!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  30. Dawg

    First off....NO! to herion legalization. But think that if caught with possession without distribution or sale...then should not be a crime. Decriminalization of possession.

    Marijuana and Hemp are two different things. Hemp has minimal THC and is not psychoactive. Marijuana has Psychoactive properties, but due to prohibition it was left unstudied. After the current Medical MJ state laws changing they are finding that 90% of the so called "facts" are actually dis-information. Most MJ propaganda is wrong and unproven.

    Research and read places like MPP (marijuana policy project) or Norml for Factual scientific studies and truth before beleiving things like DARE.

    We as the people need to use our heads. Don't punish the addict, Punish the death dealer. Marijuana IMO should be decriminalized, Medical Marijuana Legalized BY OUR Govt. Our doctors should decide best course of treatment and state law should supercede Federal. But this is not the case anymore.

    We have LOST the war on drugs. We have 1000's of lives ruined from it. Things need a change.

    Just my 2 cents worth. And to the first reply on this from the prison Guard. AMEN to what you wrote!!!!!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  31. Jeb

    the comments are probably more interesting than the article itself. each one has a particular theme that people seem to resonate with, yet our elected officials who are supposed to be representing our interests continue to ignore this theme. maybe this problem can be tackled from a different angle; rather than electing government officials who do not listen from the major parties, try third party or independents. Third party and independent candidates have more incentive do a good job than our current officials–career politicians who's reputation within congress assures that no matter what they do no stains will stick. the lack of any serious competition for government seats will continue to yield poor results for us citizens who in all reality, should be running the show. it is time to stop choosing between the "lesser of two evils" which will only yield evil, and make some serious choices about who we allow to run our lives. Several third-party candidates have called for the decriminalization of drugs consistently for the past 12 years. it is time to give them a shot, and prove to us that there is at least one politician who can put his money where his mouth is.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  32. Thomas Blixa

    I have used heroin many times and I don't suggest trying it, Mainly because it is so addictive. It makes you feel very good and euphoric and once your brain has a taste of that, It will say anything, Do anything to rationalize using it.
    As far as Marijuana, It should have been legalized decades ago.!!
    I have also used pot for several years and I have never known it to cause any kind of permanent damage to the brain, Not to mention Marijuana has a medical use that just keeps being ignored. Meanwhile, the sick and dying people out there who could have a real chance of not suffering if pot was made legal, medical marijuana.! Drinking alcohol is a thousand times worse that pot could ever be.
    President Obama promised to stop federal government raids of medical marijuana outlets in states where the voters, voted to legalize medical marijuana.
    He actually did it.!!!! Thank you Mr Obama.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  33. William W.

    I suggest all you haters visit a detox clinic or a 12 step meeting, and see the faces before you say something as stupid as "good another junkie dead".

    To anyone hooked on any drug including alcohol – help is available, and you can stop for good and live the life of your dreams. Myself and millions of others have done so through the process of recovery. All you have to be is willing. The phone numbers are in the telephone book. Dial them, don't file them!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  34. DaveR

    I have yet to hear a good arguement why street drugs shouldn't be legalized and controlled. I too could care less if suburban kids get poisoned. Besides it makes no difference. There is no democracy, there is only greed.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  35. shane

    They might as well legalize all drugs, and then bolster education, rehab, and therapy facilties, parents are already doing it, and drugs are still illegal, imagin having a population based on facts, education and information and rehab instead of PRISONS, PRISONS, and more PRISONS and prohibtion which HAS NOT WORKED AT ALL!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  36. Paul

    April 13th, 2009 2:22 pm ET

    Why is everyone so “sorry’ she passed away? You are? Really?
    I feel sorry for the parents. That they raised such a weak kid. But the fact that she’s gone?
    Good. Weed out the weak ones… pun intended.

    Drugs are a means of natural selection.
    With the exception of someone being killed by a drunk driver, drug overdose is really a victim-less crime.
    They, statistically speaking, don’t take anyone out with them, and if they overdose and drop out of the gene pool, all the better for the pool.

    Stop coddling the weakest humans. Stop lowering the standard to accomodate the weakest link. Some people need to go. And if we’d take the safety off society, you’d find that the ones that need to go, often do.
    We protect too many losers already from hurting themselves.

    So, no one ROBS or KILLS for drugs or money to buy drugs??? DUH!!!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  37. Jason

    This is very scary! My son is 2 1/2 now, and it is scary to know this is going on with kids as young as 13! I can't imagine how hard it is on the family of this poor girl to have to bury their daughter. it must be especially hard on them knowing it was due to illegal drugs. I pray that one day our country and our world will be rid of drugs. However, I know it is impossible because we have become a world so dependent on drugs. I wish my family and I could live in a bubble away from the terrors of the real world!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  38. quietus

    legalize it, regulate it, behind the counter, dose it, and tax it heavily. make it 21+ . my state uses a portion of lottery taxes for gambling addiction, same could be used here with treatment. prohibition does not work, ever.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  39. Robin

    Our country needs to wake up. The war on drugs is joke. Addicts are sick people who need help not jail. I have a friend who has been in jail for 2 years for a non-voilent drug offence. In order for him to get out he has to take a drug test. Why lock up offenders for drug crimes and then make them pass a drug test to get out of prison. Is it just me or something wrong with our criminal justice system?? I feel sorry for parents whose children become addicted however there are many young people who are addicted to legal drugs. Peace Robin

    April 13, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  40. Benst

    Marijuana should be treated Exactly the Same as tobacco and alchol. Legalize it and try and limit it being used by Adults Only.
    Hemp should be legal and manufactures should be allowed to make products from it, such as rope.

    All other narcotic drugs should remain illegal.

    Acccording to Harvard Univ. (Mass.): treating alcholics with Kudzu and St. John's Wort can sometimes help to control their addiction to alchol.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  41. Jon

    Decriminalizing and Legalizing aren't the same thing. At the very least, marijuana should be decriminalized. No more jail time for small amounts for personal use, only a monetary fine.

    Legalization is a stickier subject. I and many, many others believe that the actual health risks of pot are minimal, and at worst harmful to the smoker in the long run. You don't overdose smoking weed. On the other hand, drugs like crack, cocaine, heroin can outright kill you. Legalizing the "harder drugs" is something that I cannot wholly agree wtih, but legalization of marijuana is something that actually posses benefits.

    Firstly, the government wouldn't be able to keep their shelves stocked. They could sell it for whatever they wanted and tax to hell out of it. People would buy it because it's easy and legal. If this were to occur, rules would have to be made to secure their business so to speak. Make selling drugs even more punishible than it is now. Severely so, so that anyone wo wants to deal will suffer the consequences. Also, continue to maintain a DUI stance on driving high. DUI's aren't cheap. In addition, make it an "In home" activity. Not in bars, outside, parks, etc. For God's sake, let the peaceful adult smokers enjoy themselves in the privacy of their own home.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  42. Paul

    Why are people up in arms when SOS Clinton says we are partly to blame for the violence in Mexico... here's the proof!!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  43. Julio Arbo

    Well said. There are many questions that need to be answered. The first is what is the american need to be high all the time? Second why are drugs illegal, in the first place my body my choice except of course when the person in question is driving or the sort. Third if selling drugs is illegal why is using it just a misdemenor when the user is the main cause of gangs, mafia and even the fall of countries thru the purchase of drugs. Still other things are very wrong in the U.S. like how can a mother and father not know thier kid is on drugs. Like President Obama said turn off the TV's and start talking. And last but not least when did we hand over the country to the twenty something crowd. This thing that young people think they own the world is causing young stupid people to lead other young stupid people. Fathers and mothers take back being cool with being intelligent not wreckless. Remember it is the older folk that make things happen.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  44. Learn to Cope

    Kids today ( unlike those of us from the '60s and 70's) sadly move onto heroin addiction at a much higher rate due to the advent of oxycontin. The over prescribed oxycontin has sadly presented an open door to the addiction to opiates.

    They grab an oxcontin one night....maybe a second...and soon are so dop sick they will stick a needle of heroin in their arm just to stop withdrawals.
    No one wants to be addicted....

    Learn to Cope

    April 13, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  45. Thomas

    Why is everyone so "sorry' she passed away? You are? Really?
    I feel sorry for the parents. That they raised such a weak kid. But the fact that she's gone?
    Good. Weed out the weak ones... pun intended.

    Drugs are a means of natural selection.
    With the exception of someone being killed by a drunk driver, drug overdose is really a victim-less crime.
    They, statistically speaking, don't take anyone out with them, and if they overdose and drop out of the gene pool, all the better for the pool.

    Stop coddling the weakest humans. Stop lowering the standard to accomodate the weakest link. Some people need to go. And if we'd take the safety off society, you'd find that the ones that need to go, often do.
    We protect too many losers already from hurting themselves.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  46. pieeye

    "This is today’s heroin addict. This is what they look like. They look like everybody’s kids.” How come everyone gets upset when a white suburban kids dies of a drug overdose when it happens all the time in minority communities.? I guess Richard Pryor was right when he said it becomes a drug epidemic when it happens to white kids.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  47. Paul

    The real story is that 90% of all Heroin is grown in Afganastan while our goverment watches. Just saw a report that the U.S. goverment is giving Afgani farmers one last year to grow poppies then they have to switch to wheat. Hope the users from the projects get a one year hiatis from prosecution for possession.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  48. Mark

    Prison doesnt deter anyone because its a country club. Make crime pay and it will make a difference. Enforce the death penalty, and streamline the court system so it isnt more costly to prosecute.

    Not all drugs should be legalized. Some should, like marjuana, but it still wouldnt change anything as far as the harder drugs go. People would still use them.To this I say take off the warning lables and let natural selection take its course. Every school kid in the US above the age of four knows drugs are bad for you. Thats all you can do.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  49. snooperz

    Go to any NA meeting, Alcohol is a DRUG!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  50. Bruce

    To those saying "just stop" and everything will take care of itself-

    After food, water and sex you can bet your last dollar that most normal humans need to alter their thought process- if even temporarily. This is an indisputable fact. The people that don't need this have been taught to not need it. This isn't natural. You are the weird ones and a small minority at that.

    And for those whom have lost a loved one- Well there's always the legal system. Go after those agencies, who IMHO are grossly overpaid based on their past performance. The DEA, ONDCP, State police, local police, SWAT teams and any other enforcement agency involved and sue them. That's right- your paying their paychecks, overtime, and Miami Vice lives- they owe you. THEY FAILED YOU. They let your kid get addicted, they let you down. SUE THEM INTO DOING BETTER!

    Your sad sob stories, half of which are internet lies to make your point by trying to get people emotional about your problem, fall on deaf ears if no money is involved.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  51. Dave Rush

    thank you all for intelligent discourse on this topic. I volunteer for habitat for humanity, the humane society and own a successful small business. I care about our country, our enviornment and our children. My own daughter just recieved a full academic Scholarship to a State University.
    I am also a regular Marijuana smoker and convicted felon for Marijuana possesion.Lets stop this madness and bring our laws into the 21st century.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  52. J.Crobuzon

    Did you all not get the memo? Heroin is addictive AND kills little girls. I'm pretty sure I sent it to all of you. Try to live your lives well and structure lives for your children that don't cause them to be filled with grief, rage, and sorrow that only strong drink and hard drugs can drown? Didn't get that one? Sorry, I'll check my list, but, like, nobody ELSE told you that either?

    April 13, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  53. david goldman

    You can't legislate drug use. We have spent trillions of dollars on that kind of complete & utter stupidity that is driven by government fraud
    & special interests as much as the drug cartels. PARENTS need to
    educated & they need to be parents. We also need to spend all the
    tax dollars we are spending on the "war on drugs", on our children's
    health & education.But then if we did that, Dick Chaney's stock in 80
    some privet prisons wouldn't do to well. He needs those prisons full.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  54. George

    Thanks to the 'just say no' program, the government lost credibility with anyone who ever smoked a joint, ate some mushrooms, or dropped ecstasy. That lost credibility costs lives when people doubt the case against heroin, coke, and meth. More Americans die as a result of the drug war every year, than died on 9/11. It's time to overhaul the nation's drug policy.

    The Obama administration is too intelligent and too capable, to cling to the failed 20th century drug dogma. We need to push them, and hold them accountable.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  55. Pat

    Of course I expect a lot of MAKE IT LEGAL arguments on CNN. Liberals flock to this site. So go ahead make it legal, then when I get in a car accident from a guy who bought it from the government, I can sue the government and get rich. Darwin is awesome, if you're dumb enough to do drugs and die, the gene pool is cleaner. But when the government has no morales and taxes a substance that will do it... So maybe we can make some tax money and lower prison populations. Were do we limit the users at, because I don't want to see a doctor, lawyer, police officer or other professional that uses. I guess we could just put drug users on unemployment. I also don't want higher medical payments because we now "have" to help all these people. Major cities have what 50% of ER visits by drug users. Oh and then cops will have to test for everything when you are pulled over impaired, great. You think legalizing it will make things safer, but now we see that places that have tried it (like Amsterdam) have had to cut back, because it attracts too many "bad apples".

    April 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  56. jk

    How about we make guns illegal. All this talk about how harmful drugs are is BS! How many cops and other people died this past week alone from crazy jerks running around with guns. Maybe if they were smoking a joint they wouldnt be running around shooting people with guns. WHO ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT??? A guy smoking a joint or some nut hoarding guns in his room. I'm moving to Amsterdam. We have SERIOUS problems in this country and ITS NOT POT. And everyone who comments on pot as a problem needs to actually try it and then comment. But its just so easy to blame pot.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  57. Bubba

    DARE is a fool's dream: using peer pressure and shaming to make kids immune to, um, future peer pressure and shaming? It makes you determined to smoke at least one joint someday just to snap your fingers in the smug teachers' faces. Worst is if you are actually fooled and then wake up next year to 'oh, THAT'S how peer pressure works!'

    April 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  58. Pluto

    Darwin says we should give them all the heroin they want and see what happens.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  59. Joc

    My brother has been addicted to heroin for 6 years, and his only hope was to go on the methadone clinic, and its the best that i have seen him. there is absolutely nothing you can for someone who is addicted to heroin. He has been in countless rehab, sober houses, and even jail. Everytime he relapsed we thought 'this is his rock bottom, and it cant get any worse' and it did get worse everytime. He has overdosed twice, and been seconds away from death....yet that still has not scared him enough.

    My suggestion for anyone who has a friend or family member who is addicted to heroin:
    DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF. Parents tend to blame themselves for their childs problems. It is not your fault. It does not matter what type of family they had, or how they have grown up, everyone makes their own choices.
    Do not trust anything that comes out of their mouths. I have never seen anything like it, but they have the ability to lie so well that you really believe 'this time is different'.
    Take action. If you are the Parent or guarding, then you can go to the court house and have the state put them in a demanded rehab facility for 30 days. After they have completed the program, and they can hopefully talk to you, then demand them to a sober house for at least 6 months.
    Tough love. Sometimes letting go, is the best thing you can do. If you are always their for them to talk to, and come to whenever they need something, and they are just using you to get high...then you are an enabler. Letting them go, and allowing them to 'safely' hit rock bottom will be the best thing for them. it hurts like hell, but its the only way they grow up.
    Talking when they are sober. When they are sober, they want to talk about what its like to do drugs, and what its like to get sober, because its literally the only thing they have in their life. Let them talk, and dont get upset.
    Finally, if they are well beyond the point of help, get a hold of a intervention program, and look into the methadone clinic.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  60. bob

    "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. " ~ Ben Franklin
    I think this quote is especially important when talking about the war on drugs because it is an accurate description of what has happened in America. Government propaganda or what have you scared people into thinking drugs were dangerous and needed to be outlawed. In essence they passed laws to protect ourselves from ourselves, as was done with prohibition. We should have listened to FDR when he said "the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."
    That fear of drugs led us to give up our liberty to make our own decisions. Yes, doing drugs can lead to awful things, but it is no different than alcohol and tobacco addiction. We gave up our liberty for protection and we gained neither. Instead we have rampant organized crime that infests itself in every city in the US and even in the most rural places in the country. This has led to "gangsters" in the major cities which preys on the poor and helpless while at the same time becoming a driving force behind pop culture. In that aspect alone we have already lost the war on drugs, by declaring it in the first place. Now look at the practical side. SO much money is spent on incarcarating ANYONE who is involved with drugs even users who do not have a problem at all. SO much money is spent fighting this war on every border, in every city, and even in different countries. Also there is only one way to really win a war on drugs. That is through control. 100 years ago, cigarettes were a lot more potent but nowadays are not even close to the potency they once were, while illegal drugs have gone up in potency. Cigarettes now are looked on with disdain by most people and that is not so with drugs. The government was able to control the tobacco and alcohol trade and now they have manageable problems. I think its safe to say the war on drugs is not manageable. They argue that as long as there is a black market available, such as kids under 18 cannot buy drugs, that cartels will continue to make money and that we cannot win the price war anyways. Last I checked there is no organized crime out there supplying booze to underage kids. I'm sure they can get some from friends or liberal family members. So that argument is shot. And as for the price war, I'm sure people will take buying drugs legally to going to jail and paying fines that they cannot afford. Eventually no matter what the cartels did, they would eventually become obsolete. Not to mention that perhaps a hundred years from now, with government control, those drugs would only be a shadow of the potency they are nowadays. Like someone said before, there is no one checking ID's for kids buying drugs either. To legalize these drugs allows the government to step in and make rules, but you can't make rules on something that is illegal. This is just a small fraction of the reasons why the war on drugs has failed so far and why it is inevitable that it will fail permanently. Aside from all the facts and figures which go both ways, I think we should all take a cue from the founding fathers as they were some of the smartest men in the world at that time and are the reason this country has become as successful as it is. Don't give up liberty because you are scared. The unintended consequences WILL far outweigh the risks. Not to mention, when you tell people what to do with themselves, they tend to rebel, especially in a free thinking country such as ours.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  61. Becca

    How is it possible the mother didnt know what the little packets were?? All parents should be REQUIRED to watch "intervention" on A & E. Highly terrifying yet educational.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  62. lane

    I do not have the answer. But my question is what is the value of a life? If pot is as easy to get as cigarettes than teens will pay someone over 21 a couple extra bucks to get them a joint, just like they do with beer. What of the deaths that increase because of the inhibition that occurs when teens take drugs? What of the car accidents that take the lives of innocent bystanders, that take parents away from children? People do stupid things when they take drugs, I certainly did in my youth, and I am well aware that I am lucky to be alive, all I ever did is pot and I put myself in some dangerous places because of it.
    If we determine that for every million dollars we make/save we can allow a death than I guess we might as well take the money and walk, personally the life of my wife and kids is worth more than 80 billion.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  63. Kristen

    It's a little thing called natural selection.

    Really, mom, you didn't think that she would use again after the first time she overdosed? The doctors never told you what to look for? You never educated yourself on your child's problem? You didn't know what those packets were? IT'S THE PARENTS FAULT AND THEY NEED TO TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY.

    Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Knives and ropes don't kill people, people kill people. Drugs don't kill people, people kill people.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  64. Will 18E

    Since most of the world's heroin comes from the poppy fields of Afghanistan, we have more than the suppliers and users to blame, we have our own guvment. Sine the invasion of Afghanistan after 911, not a single opium croup has been napalmed. There is no "war" military eradication of these fields taking place. even-though a significant amount of funding for anti U.S. operations come from the opium trade.

    Oh yes lets start talking legalization and taxation, That way law enforcement and concentrate on giving people who do not wear there seats belts tickets.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  65. Zach

    In response to JACK:
    “This whole thing with making drugs legal is an asinine idea. Making the drugs legal would mean telling children that they are acceptable.” Last I checked, alcohol and tobacco products are still illegal to minors. I would suspect the same laws would be in place, if drugs were to be legalized. I would doubt that there are many parents out there encouraging their kids to drink or smoke. You claim legalizing drugs will make them appear “acceptable” to children. What’s the difference between “illegal for minors” and just plain “illegal”? I don’t know about your upbringing, but even though my parents drank, they never positioned it to me or my siblings as “acceptable” for us; it was an “adult” thing, like R-rated movies, strip clubs and roller coasters. Next. “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.” Alcohol and tobacco are both legal. When was the last time you were offered a homemade beer or homegrown cigarette in a back alley? How many underground moonshine distillers have been raided in your neighborhood in the last decade? Exactly. You just disproved your own point. Making drugs available through legal means creates an immediate sense of distrust in illegal distribution channels, which would eventually subside virtually entirely. To think that someone would buy a joint wrapped in a ziplock bag from a guy on the corner when the tried and true federally-backed version is available on the same corner inside a nice air-conditioned quickie mart is pure stupidity. “These type of statements are generally made by people who have IQ’s not much larger then their shoe sizes.” So, you’re short then. “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.” Most people aren’t going to die from 1 or 2 encounters with most drugs either. This particular point makes no sense whatsoever. You’re comparing quantity to regularity of use or potency, as if they were the same thing. They’re not. That’s like saying that 1 or 2 beers don’t kill people, but 1 or 2 bottles of vodka will kill almost anyone; therefore, vodka should be illegal. Obviously, the more you do of anything, the worse it is for you, including drinking too much water at one time. “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.” See the point I made earlier. We aren’t talking about pirated CDs and DVDs here. Sure, why buy the real thing when you can download it for free? Well, even in that scenario, many people choose to buy the real deal for many different reasons. Some prefer better quality. Some prefer to have the cover art. Some just see it as a moral debate. Now, how many people downloading pirated movies do you think would continue with that practice, if you told them that there was a chance that the movie they were downloading could kill them? I think we’d probably see a significant increase in Warner Bros stock, don’t you think? That’s not to say that there wouldn’t still be people willing to take the risk of downloading (there are always some people willing to test their limits), but I would say that the majority of downloading would end almost instantly. Now, take everything I just said about movie piracy and apply it to drugs. Same thing. “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 called education. It’s called personal responsibility. It’s called freedom of choice. No one is forcing drugs onto you by simply legalizing them. You can buy legal sex videos of people defecating on each other. I’ve never bought one because it ain’t my bag. I could buy tequilia whenever I want to, but I just don’t touch the stuff. I’ve been in close quarters with lots of drugs over the course of my life, most of which I didn’t do. Will I start doing them all if they are all legalized? Umm, let’s see here, nope. You could legalize bestiality tomorrow, but you won’t find me buying any new pets. Legalization and use are not innately linked, as your comments seem to suggest. At some point, people are responsible for their own actions, legal or not. “It’s just a shame that stupid people like this are allowed to vote!” If “stupid people” in this case is self-referential, then I agree 100%.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  66. pketpket

    So I am a 24 year old female engineer born and raised in a rural coastal town in NC that now lives in Raleigh. In high school I remember very specific instances where pot was mentioned in conversations. I remember very specifically the type of kids that did pot. Mostly surfers, but the kids were all types, jocks, poor, rich, black, white. That's the thing with drugs they cross all sorts of boundaries we use to keep ourselves separate from one another. If there was a single defining element to the kids that used pot on a weekly basis or more, was that there was something missing in their lives. This trend continued when I went off to college. I wouldn't say more or less people do it when they go off to college, just that there is more opportunity and perhaps less social judgment so individuals are more open about it. Drinking was much more of a concern to me and my friends' safety than pot ever was. (Haven't heard many comments on lowering the drinking age in this forum.) Still the bottom line was that something was missing in the lives of those using pot/drugs as a way to connect to a larger community.

    I think today's modern parent is typically absent in their child's life. Yes kids aged 13-21 act like adults, look like adults, are capable of making good decisions like adults but they aren't. Recently I made that transition and I have to agree the major change I felt was the shedding of selfishness. Substance abuse is a selfish sickness. It is treatable, but it takes growing up quite a bit to overcome fully. This means a healthy dose of parent involvement. Some parents have reasons they haven't gotten involved like two jobs, their own illness, their own selfish self absorption, and denial. Their are solutions to each of these hurdles and money isn't one. It seems like most parents want their kids to like them more than actually parent. I give my mother kuddos for always communicating with me even when I didn't want to talk or felt like she could "never" relate to me. Just knowing there is a parent, someone tied to you that cares more than any friend ever could means the world to a struggling teenager. For every teenager there is a unique solution to reach them, but if you know your child then you know the answer. There are some really good service message commercials out there for drug prevention that focus on reaching to parents not the teenagers themselves. I feel terrible for this family, but I know the parents have regrets not pushing the issue further with their daughter and allowing her to distance herself from her family. Parent's can learn from this situation.

    If you are a parent and close with your teenager or college student you should be able to answer the following questions without room for doubt or hesitation.

    1. What is their first response to "what do you want for breakfast"?
    2. What teacher isn't grading them fairly/giving them a hard time?
    3. What did you give them for their birthday last year?
    4. If they could take just one friend on a family vacation who would it be? Do you think this person is a good influence? Tell them.
    5. Where is their spot at the dinner table/couch?
    6. What was their last CD/i-tune they purchased?
    7. When was the last time you hugged them (even if they hated it and pulled away)?
    8. What was your last phone conversation/text about with them?
    9. When was the last time you said you were proud of them/offered to help them with a problem they shared with you?
    10. If you gave them $50 for the weekend what would they buy? Ask them to show you the receipt(s).

    April 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  67. Hope for Change

    My heart goes out to her family and friends. If herion was legalized the amount of herion could be standardized so that users would know how much they have and might actually be safer. If they knew they had something that was 70% heroin they would use less than something "stepped on" for profit that might only be 20% heroin. The same with other 'hard' drugs. I don't use any of them but it just makes more sense. People murder and commit crimes everyday to sell these products. And by crimes I mean other than the actual laws broken selling them. It just seems like things would actually be safer if you gave citizens here in the states the FREEDOM to choose how they wanted to spend thier lives. There are going to be users regardless. If there were a legal means of using drugs society could set up programs to help those with problems more openly. Isn't it time to give change a chance?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  68. Anthony Cassini

    It always seems to take en economic crisis before we see the truth about prohibition and it's failings. Were it not for alchohol prohibition in the 1920's and 30's , Al Capone would have been just another S.Chicago street thug. As it was his empire streached from N. Michigan to Florida where he was smuggling in his wares and an under funded and (at least in Chicago) corrupt police force could not stop him. Who else have we helped enrich in this manner? Pablo Escobar, Manuel Noriega, Pol Pot, the Taliban, and many more sordid figures. Simply put, ending the war on drugs will also aid us in the "War on Terror". Opium production in Afghanistan is at an all time high. Cocaine now comes from Mexico. In order to fix a problem in the dark, you must first drag it into the light so it can be examined, otherwise, you have no idea what you're looking at. Prohibition keeps the problem in the dark.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  69. DaveR

    It will NEVER happen. We will have the war on drugs for the next 50 years. Kids will still OD, rehab groups will still be full, parents will still turn a blind eye to the problem. I remember the 1960's Dragnet television program doing a series on drug abuse. You'd think people would have matured alittle over the course of 4 decades. Marijuana was enough for me. I have friends who were involved with sniffing solvents. Hard drugs are too strong for casual users and abusers. If my child ODed on heroin I would: move, get a new job, put them and the family in rehab. If I had a choice between my child getting drunk on alcohol and driving and getting stoned and driving I would pick the later in a heartbeat. Alcohol and pot aren't even in the same league. The fact that the laws don't confirm it makes everyone suspicious of the law. Deny a psychic an outlet and it comes back twice as strong. These kids are going through changes, they get frustrated and they want to use and abuse something. They turn on the tube and its erectile dysfunction cured with a pill. Good standards don't you think?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  70. cheri

    Last year, 2 of my 3 brothers died of heroin overdoses within 6 weeks of each other. My son has been an addict but, thankfully, was able to come out of it alive and well.
    We pointed police to the person who sold the heroin, but nothing was done. He is still out there selling.
    How many deaths and heartache will it take for authorities and politicians to stand up and take notice and fight this deadly force?
    We, as familys and friends are doing what we can to get the word out, but we can only do so much.
    We need help because this is bigger and stronger than anything you can imagine.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  71. Phil

    Has anybody bothered to think that the drug war itself is profitable? Tons of cash (tax $$) are spent everyday on drug enforcement...and politicians and law enforcement don't want to give up that in-flow of dollars...It frustrates me to say this, but the drug war will be with us always..while it does superficially fight drug use (a losing battle, it's akin to criminalizing in folks are gonna do it anyway)...the real issue is the money that fuels the drug war (our money, taxpayer money) and all of those who benefit from the drug war...i.e-.if you cut the prison population in half by legalizing pot, then you should only need half the law enforcement, correct?!?!

    April 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  72. Joe Erie

    Legalization and regulation are probably the best route. BUT it is not that simple. For example, look at the policy on alcohol consumption in Europe vs. United States. The European model doesn't make it an illegal and enticing product which leads to binging here. But if we ever wanted to move to that model we would have a very hard time doing so. It would be like turning on a faucet, you'd have to do it gradually, over time.
    For those commenters that say give the big time drugs dealers the death penalty, good idea, but be prepared to keep doing it for the next 10 people who take their place behind them, because so long as there is an enormous profit there will always be someone to sell the drugs.
    Also, to those who point out that there are illegal cigarettes, lotteries, etc. take a look at the numbers involved, the $ there is chump change compared to the illegal drug trade. Illegal drugs are more available to kids than alcohol. Period. There is your example.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  73. MATT

    "you back legalizing pot, you should be charged with accessory to murder each time a person is killed by a pot smoking, drunk"

    hahahahhahahahahahah hah ahah ahhahahaha

    April 13, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  74. d. jackson

    Legalization! License for Murder! No...No...No! We should NOT have any legal "high" people driving on our roadways! It is bad enough with all the loaded drunks on the highways killing people...Wake Up!

    April 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  75. Johnism

    Marijuana is a gateway drug only because we made it a gateway drug. The fact is the majority of the population that has experimented with drug use started with marijuana. Where do you think they were introduced to the other hard drugs? That’s right their marijuana dealer.

    Ever since the “war on drugs” began we have been told all drugs are bad. No one tells kids that marijuana won’t kill you but heroin and meth will. No one tells kids that marijuana is not addictive but you can become addicted to heroin after a single use.

    When a teen finally tries marijuana they realize it is no worse than alcohol and that they have been lied to. This makes them much less hesitant to experiment with other drugs.


    It is time to legalize marijuana so the attacks on it will stop and they can focus on the drugs that actually ruin people’s lives. They show commercials about how marijuana use will make your dog not like you and your friends will think you are boring.

    HEROIN AND METH KILL!! Where are the commercials showing a heroin user selling everything they own to get high? Where are the commercials showing heroin users stealing money from friends and family to get high? Where are the commercials showing a kid overdosing?

    Honestly my dog hating me sounds pretty good compared to sticking a needle in my arm and losing everything good in my life.

    It is time to legalize marijuana and finally be honest with our children about the seriousness of each drug individually. It’s time to take the gateway out of the gateway drug.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  76. Richard Rankin

    Taliban is in charge in Afghanistan, no opium is produced. Americans come in, take over and opium production through the roof, world is flooded with heroin. Something wrong with this picture?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  77. I AM OUTRAGED.....

    Even though this is a sad situation, I could really care less sometimes.
    I mean now all of a sudden it is a tragedy because little white kids in the suburbs are taking drugs.
    This isn't anything new!!!!! Drugs didn't just get to the subburbs, they have been there!
    What really disturbs me is the fact that now all of a sudden this is an outrage.
    No one says anything about little black and hispanic kids that are exposed to drugs, it is not an outrage then.
    People really have thier priorities mixed up, instead of trying to combat the problem presented to all kids...., people are only worried about suburban white children.......

    What needs to happen to get a tv special about black/hispanic kids and drugs.... an overdose..., oh I'm sorry, that has already happened, but unfortuantely no one knew about it becasue of who it was.....


    April 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  78. Mike

    I'm wondering if many of the people posting that we should legalize drugs would also say, "yes, I would use heroin, cocaine and marijuana on a regular basis, if it were regulated? And I don't think that using it once a day is harmful." BTW – If you only were to legalize one, the marketing from the drug cartels would just push to another drug so it stands that to "fix" the problem you have to legalize all.

    I like Eric M's comments. The real problem is that many people are so equivocal about drug use and all this talk about legalizing it confuses our children and our friends. If all parents would take a harder stance, gradually we could decrease drug use. The challenge is that even the parents who work hard with their kids have to send them out to the world where a few "pushers" make it seem okay and cool. There needs to be a negative social stigma to drugs in this country that suffocates the peers who push. Legalizing drugs won't get us to that point.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  79. mere

    Since charges are not brought against those who use in some states (small amounts are not considered important enough since Nixon), only against those who hold larger amounts (expected of selling) on them, ofcourse there will be usage amoung children. illegal drugs are illegal. Usage is therefore illegal. make the arrest. stop making excuses.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  80. Gloria in Kirkland Washington

    Our family is going through this with my son right now! It's a huge problem in our communities – 8 of my son's circle of friends in his senior year are now battling heroin addiction. We have missed an entire generation with education on these dangerous drugs. While we were busy focusing on alcohol use, marijuana, and all the other designer drugs, this one has crept in like a thief in the night. My son will battle this addiction for the rest of his life, and we will as a family battle this addiction as well. Not only does it affect our entire family but our community as well. For my son, the gateway here was oxycontin – which can be smoked as my son did – then went to heroin as it's cheaper and easier to get.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  81. larry

    The thought that simply legalizing heroin, meth, pot, whatever will solve everything is horribly naive. Yeah, tobacco and alcohol are legal. How many people died last week from using them? Doesn't mean the harm goes away with the law.

    Think the people who control illegal drug traffic to the U.S. will give up billions without a struggle and just let Uncle Sam walk off with the business? Are you outta you mind? Take a look at Mexico...

    April 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  82. Steve

    Prohibition alone almost never works. You need prohibition, education and rehabilitation. Without one of these three legs, the others will fail.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  83. CS

    Good, one less junkie on our hands. She did us all a favor by not using welfare or "taking the ride" in the future.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  84. Travis

    I think a big part of this teen drug issue is the fact that older individuals try and teach it. I mean, nothing against parents fighting for all of this, but really, what do teenagers tend to do... not listen to their parents and do opposite of what they state. I know deaths are horrific and terrible to families, but there might be a better response from teenagers if other teenagers are telling them not to do it because their friend just died versus parental units and government.

    As any single person can attest and has probably done, a teenager likes to push the limits, especially the limits of what their parents tell them. Once drugs are not looked upon as "cool" and so and so is doing it, it won't be nearly as difficult for kids to say no. Look at cigarettes for example, they have been on the decline for years as its not as "cool" so smoke them as they used to be, heck they used to be an american icon where all the movie stars and important people did it.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  85. Annie

    I live in what you could call middle-upper class neighborhood of a large city. I live paycheck to paycheck, take no government subsidies, but I work hard at my job. I guarantee the local police are very aware of how easy it is to get cocaine around here. I wouldn't say it's as easy as getting alcohol by any means, but I know several dealers casually from the area, who don't bother flying under the radar. We should legalize drugs, control the quality and tax the hell out of them. Empty the jails. Did we learn nothing from Prohibition, the mobs, etc.?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  86. Eric

    In 1914 the first anti-drug law was passed at this time 1.3% of the population was addicted to drugs. In 1970, the start of the "war on Drugs' we had 1.3% of people addicted to drugs. Now close to 40 years later we have 1.3% of people addicted to drugs. All drugs were legal up til 1914 and the world didn't fall apart. Legalizing drugs would not increase usage, pot is legal in the Netherlands and they have half the usage rate that we do here in the states.
    In 2001 Portugal decriminalized ALL DRUGS, now it is being hailed as a successful policy, all doomsday scenarios about rampant drug use never came to pass. Decrim/legalization works, prohibition does not. You will not hear about Portugal's success in the media, the DOJ and DEA won't even acknowledge the success of Portugal

    April 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  87. jake

    What did we think was going to happen? We shove it down our kids throats that drugs are bad before they even know what they are. Kids are curious and do everything else you tell them not to do, what makes drugs off limits? And then later on they learn about Vietnam and the 60's and that drugs fueled a cultural revolution. It's all a double standard. You tell them they're bad one day and good another and then all of the sudden you have drug sniffing dogs in school, random drug tests and it creates distrust between kids and adults. We need a new way to approach this.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  88. A Ron

    Why the mention of "VOTE! Should drugs be legalized in the US?". Shouldn't a question like that be posed on an article more along the lines of Medical Marijuana aiding cancer victims? Just seems like a biased article to bring something up like that. Fair enough I suppose, but really, does something like heroin even have positive effects to even warrant legalization?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  89. Dyna

    September 18, 2008 – I lost a wonderful 21 year old friend. He was intelligent. He was clean cut. If anyone ever needed help with anything, he was the first to be there. Unfortunately, he died that night of a heroin overdose. I had known him for 3 years. I never knew he did it. A few months later, his best friend overdosed on heroin. He survived. People need to be educated on heroin. They need to know how deadly the drug is. It is not a drug to play with.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  90. nifty sixty in Colorado

    Been there done my very eaarly years. I do know one thing...although legal, I believe alcohol is the bigger evil. But since pot is illegal I have to advocate liquor. No, I don't advocate any drugs or alcohol. I am really struggling with what would be the right thing for our children and adults. I know one thing, legalizing pot would not lead to an increase in consumption or new users. Sure there will be some but no one know the dark number that already exsists. I also firmly believe that people who use will use legal or not, so what is the issue? We as adults have to assume responsibility for ourselves an dwhom ever decides to use drugs will have to live and die with that decission. But what effect will legalization have on our country as a whole? It just can't get any worse than what it already is. The money wasted for jails and police actions could be used much better, as in education and rehabilitation. If all elsse fails put all addicts on an island until the've all od'd.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  91. Alexander

    I simply believe that drugs that are more likely to cause acute toxicity should be regulated more heavily than drugs that do not cause acute toxicity. For example, people die from acute alcohol toxicity frequently. They die from acute heroin and cocaine toxicity, too. They die from mushroom toxicity. Many people could kill themselves with $15 worth of vodka, just like you can kill yourself with a "$5-10" bag of heroin (anyone hear about the game called 21 Shots?).

    You can't overdose on THC without injecting an emulsion of purified THC into your bloodstream or getting a pulmonary gavage of THC oil. You can;t smoke enough weed to fatally overdose because you would lose consciousness and sleep it off before you could possibly smoke enough to die. The biggest risks with dosing on THC is getting smoke particles in your lungs (cancer risk) and experiencing mild hippocampus disruption (affects your memory). Making "green tea" and "special brownies" eliminates the cancer risk, and enriches your body with natural antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

    I think alcohol should be regulated more heavily than pot because alcohol is deadlier. You can die from alcohol. Sure, you can do stupid things that get you killed while high, but people do those same stupid things when they're drunk.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  92. ken sawyer

    Read these comments and they will explain a lot. We are riding around on the highways with these nuts who are telling us how good these drugs are and how we should legalize them. The only good it would do is bring the price and profit down for the ones who sell it for a living. It will save no one except the ones who die in the drug wars.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  93. speider

    Legalize marijuana and use the profits to identify and treat the harder drug users. Naturally, marijuana needs not only strict laws on distribution but there also needs to be harsher laws for DUI (and for alcohol).

    Marijuana prohibition was the casualty of hemp prohibition sought by the industrialists whose profits were threatened by this cheap source of paper, clothing fiber, animal feed and a thousand other uses. During the second world war, the government lifted the ban and even produced a film, "Hemp for Victory." It is not just a case of marijuana revenues but the re-introduction of hemp as a viable source of products, job creation and greener technologies across many industries.

    Let this nation grow up and escape the yolk of foolishness and fear. Treat addiction with compassion and allow personal choice for substances that, after decades of testing, show more good than harm. The current laws have not worked and just placed the ability to purchase with children, while placing profits into the hands of a criminal element. Let other industrialized nations who have stopped this senseless witch-hunt be our guides as they have not suffered any of the problems we so fear but have instead prospered.

    If we allow cigarettes and alcohol to remain legal, then certainly marijuana should be just as legal - and controlled.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  94. Ash

    We have already lost the drug war. Heroine cheaper than beer and potency and toxcicity uncontrolled. We need to legalize all drugs so we can gain control of the distribution and protect our children.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  95. dennisl59

    Heroin is made from Opium. 95% of the world's Opium is grown where? Anyone? Class? If you said New Jersey or Idaho that would be incorrect.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  96. DLG

    I have to say that the idea that a mother would find packets of some white substance after her daughter overdosed, and trust her daughter's judgment that she didn't need rehab, is negligence. I don't care whats in the packet. Once my daughter OD's on heroin I am going to make the worst case assumption.

    It sounds so tragic, but its also the tragedy of passivity. Their daughter had extreme personality changes while living in their house as a minor, and they just accepted it. Their daughter OD's and they just accept it. Like its the weather.

    My father would have sat on me. All my friends would have narced on me. My brother and sister would have spied on me. No one in my family would have let me get away with doing anything at all once I had a near death experience.

    I had a heart attack recently, and I can't eat a piece of candy without getting swatted at. At work they eye what I eat. Who are these people and when did they learn to just be victims?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
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