- What is the scope of the problem? Where and how are overdose-related prosecutions happening?
- Should sellers be responsible for outcomes, and if so then under what circumstances? Should the expectation of potential harm from illegal drug use be a legitimate defense?
- How or why should we approach this differently than sellers of other (potentially) adulterated products, like produce contaminated with E. coli or counterfeit medication?
- People who use drugs tend not to keep a log of who they buy from, and medical examiners can’t determine the provenance of a morphine or cocaine metabolite. So is it appropriate to prosecute someone for an act that cannot be forensically linked to the outcome?
- People in drug policy reform often say something akin to ‘No one should be incarcerated for a petty, nonviolent drug crime.’ Where is the line drawn? Who is a drug dealer? Are there any circumstances under which supplying drugs that lead to “death or serious bodily injury" should result in criminal liability, and if so, in the current system is there any way to fairly determine guilt?
Monday, April 30, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
By Maia Szalavitz, The Fix
When I was injecting drugs back in the mid-1980s, several sneaky killers were haunting addicts. We didn’t know it at the time, but half of all New Yorkers who shot drugs were already infected with HIV and many more were carrying the hepatitis C virus. There was no effective treatment for either disease. Thousands died. And unfortunately, many in the recovery community stayed silent.
The risk we knew about—overdose—seemed just as implacable. You could reduce the danger by limiting your doses and not mixing similar drugs, such as heroin, Valium and alcohol, say, or cocaine and amphetamines, and that remains good advice. Back then, we fatalistically assumed that this menace pretty much came with the territory.
In 2012, however, both HIV and hepatitis C are not only treatable but amenable to prevention campaigns. New HIV infections among drug users have been cut in half in the last decade, largely by clean-needle programs, which can also fight hepatitis C (though not as effectively).
But some 15,000 people still die annually from opioid overdoses—even though there’s a cheap, effective and safe remedy that could save most of these lives if it were more widely available. With prescription opioid misuse now the main cause of rising overdose fatalities and with the overwhelming failure of ongoing efforts to cut supply, it’s long past time to focus on the most direct way to prevent death by OD.