The Legalization Cure for the Heroin Epidemic

by Mark Thornton

A heroin epidemic has been spreading across the United States, expanding enormously for the last several years. With it, the number of people dying has also increased dramatically. While politicians offer failed solutions like “securing the borders,” the real solution is to legalize drugs.

The number of drug overdoses in the US is approaching 50,000 per year. Of that number nearly 20,000 are attributed to legal pain killers, such as Oxycontin. More than 10,000 die of heroin overdoses. I believe these figures vastly underestimate the number of deaths that are related to prescription drug use.

The “face” of the heroin epidemic has changed since the 1960s when it was largely contained to urban “junkies” and Vietnam veterans. In recent years the epidemic spread to suburbia as heroin became a low-cost substitute for other drugs. In more recent times, the epidemic has spread to rural areas such as fishing villages in Maine and coal mining towns in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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