Time for the US to legalise drugs

When drug addiction, and the overdoses flowing from it, is a minority sport then interesting conversations can be had about the conflicts between civil liberty and protecting people from their own demons. When the problem has become sufficiently large to be affecting the expected lifespans of the nation then government really does have to do something.

That something being legalise the stuff:

America's worsening opioid crisis has caused life expectancy to fall for the second year running for the first time in more than half a century.

The average life expectancy in the US is now 78.6 years - down by 0.1 years, figures from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) found.

It is the first consecutive drop in life expectancy since 1962-63 and surpasses the previous one-year dip in 1993 at the height of the Aids epidemic.

America's opioid addiction crisis - caused by the over-prescription of opioid based painkillers - has been blamed for the trend. 

The addiction sees patients turning to heroin and other substances when their doctors stops issuing prescription medication.

Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which has flooded the US drugs market and is 100 times more powerful than heroin, are thought to be behind the dramatic increase in overdoses among heroin users. 

How we got here isn't important as compared to what we do now. For what's killing people is not the desire to get blitzed - whether caused by over-prescription of opioids, inequality, the terrors of neoliberalism or anything else - but the illegality of the drugs themselves.

Heroin itself rarely kills. Pharmaceutically pure that is, in measured doses. The two most common, by far, causes of overdoses are those coming back to it after a layoff, dosing as before and having lost much of their tolerance, and variable doses in the material itself.

Modern chemistry has made this very much worse with synthetics like fentanyl. It's hugely cheaper and also very much stronger. More, the gap between a dose that produces a high and one that kills is very much smaller. Some to much "heroin" is now cut with such synthetics, making a dose even more of a lottery than it has traditionally been.

As we say, this is now enough of a problem that something really must be done. We've tried half a century of prosecuting, persecuting, those who simply wish to get high and as we can see that doesn't work. Legalisation - no, not decriminalisation, full legalisation - is the only viable answer.

For it is the variability of the dose that is killing people. Only when brands appear with controlled and known dosages will the deaths stop. Thus we want to have such legal brands.

Sure, profits will be made from this. But then profits are being made from the current system too. It's just that with the high being legal we've a system to prosecute those who kill their customers. And no, shouting that we've already got a system of prosecuting drug dealers doesn't work. For the current system quite obviously doesn't work, does it?  

There is also that civil liberty argument to consider. We are sovereign over our own bodies so why shouldn't we be allowed to get high in the manner of our choosing? Government's job is therefore, as far as it has one at all, to regulate to encourage safety, no more.