Anyone looking for evidence of the failure of the drug war needs to look no further than our area’s surging heroin problem.  Two recent news stories illustrate.  The first links Ohio’s crackdown on “Pill Mills” to the increased demand for heroin.  The short version is a lot of folks got addicted to pain medication and with the state now closely monitoring both pain clinics and doctors’ prescription patterns, the market for cheap heroin as an option to pain pills has exploded.  (Read the entire story)

The second story focused on the dirty needle problem, a direct result of heroin use.  The story notes that addicts are leaving their used needles in parks, rest stops and any other place they stop to use.  The dirty needles represent a direct health risk to first responders, clean-up crews and any citizens who pass through the area.  (Here’s the needle story)

So what to make of today’s heroin epidemic . First, let’s note that heroin has been around since the Civil War and its use and resulting addiction problem catch the attention of the policy makers every 20 or 30 years.  It was the heroin epidemic in the 1970’s that generated much of the concern leading to Nixon’s original declaration of War on Drugs.  Over the years, heroin fell out of the public consciousness, replaced by crack and then meth, but is now very much back in the forefront of the country’s drug problem discussion.  Thus, after nearly 50 years of drug prohibition, has the War on Drugs been a success?  You would need a search warrant to find any rational person agreeing with that proposition.  The uncomfortable fact is the only people happy with the results of our War on Drugs are the Cartel Bosses who have raked in billions of dollars.

It was way past time for some serious public discussion on alternatives.