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April 02, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-04-02

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OPINION

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Friday, April 2, 1982

The Michigan Daily

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Heroin:

Separating fact from fiction

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By David Stewart
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:1eroin-
:To be a confirmed drug addict is to be one of
Oie walking dead ... The teeth have rotted out,
dli'appetite is lost, and the stomach and in-
Wstanes don't function properly. . . Eyes and
sin turn a bilious yellow-. in some cases mem-
branes of the nose turn a flaming
"ed ... Oxygen in the blood decreases; bron-
fi4tis and tuberculosis scars remain . .. Ner-
yes snap; vicious twitching develops ... Fan-
tastic fears blight the mind and sometimes
Complete insanity results. Often times, too,
dleath comes-much too early in life... Such
is the torment of being a drug addict ... one of
the .walking dead."
- THAT IS WHAT the Supreme Court said in
1i62. And judging from the talks I have had
With many people, the words almost perfectly
epitomize the public conception of the effects of
heroin and the physiological and mental states
of Heroin users.
Thus I have found an almost foolproof way of
getting people to see me not as a mild, serious,
and upright person, but as ethically
bankrupt - a veritable moral monster. All I
have to do is to advocateethe complete
legalization of heroin. Since everyone knows
that the Supreme Court got the facts right, it is
manifest that heroin should be strictly illegal
and that those who disagree must be irrespon-

sible misanthropes.
Yet, why, after all, should heroin be illegal? I
have encountered a few general reasons:
Heroin should be illegal because it is an ex-
tremely dangerous drug, because it causes
grave mental damage, because it is an integral
part of our crime problems.
YET HEROIN'S popular image is unsuppor-
ted by scientific evidence. It rests on a mass of
erroneous beliefs and fallacies that have
gained credence not because of any intellec-
tual virtues, but because of incessant repetition
and their value as sensation. (It is supported
by moral, not medical, horror. This is the true
nature of the feeling of most people at the mere
thought of heroin.)
What are the actual effects of heroin itself? I
once told a newspaper editor that heroin is
almost completely harmless; he said that I
would surprise a lot of doctors with that
statement.
He was probably wrong. Medical knowledge
about heroin and other opiates often contradic-
ts groundless popular beliefs.
LET'S SURVEY what doctors have found
about the true effects of heroin:
0 "The study shows that morphine addiction
is not characterized by physical deterioration
or impairment of physical fitness aside from
the addiction per se. There is no evidence of
change in the circulatory, hepatic, renal, or
endocrine functions." (Dr. A. B. Light, Ar-
chives of Internal Medicine, 1929).

(Morphine is the primary active constituent
in opium. Heroin is a morphine derivative,
about two to four times as potent as morphine.
It is converted back into morphine in the
body, and the only difference in effect is in the
potency);
- "To our surprise we have not been able to
locate even one scientific study on the proved
harmful effects of addiction. . . We have
assembled over 500 documents. . . but not one
of them offers a . . . scientifically valid
statement on this problem. . . There was no
real evidence of brain damage or other serious
organic disease resulting from the continued
use of narcotics." -(Dr. George Stevenson,
"Drug Addiction in British Columbia: A
Research Survey," 1956);
" "Cigarette smoking is unquestionably more
damaging to the human body than heroin."
(Dr. Vincent Dole,. personal letter to E.
Brecher, 1967); and
" "The addict who is able to obtain an
adequate supply (of heroin or other opiates)
through legitimate channels . . . usually
dresses properly, maintains his nutrition, and
is able to discharge his social and occupational
obligations with reasonable efficiency. He
usually remains in good health, suffers little,
and is, in general, difficult to distinguish from
other persons." (Dr. Jerome Jaffe, The Phar-
macological Basis of Therapeutics, 1980).
Systematic research, then, has never suppor-

ted the high court's popular image of heroin.
The health hazards of heroin do not result from
heroin per se.
But the archetypical "heroin fiend" does not
get the drug itself. And here is the basis for the
court's description of addicts, which does fit
many users of heroin-but not because they use
heroin.
THE TYPICAL urban addict gets a con-
pound that contains perhaps three to five per-
cent heroin. All kinds of problems can be
traced back to this fact - consider the other 95
to 97 percent of the compound.
That the bulk of what is sold is not heroin par-
tly accounts for the fact that users in-
ject-mainline-the drug. When relatively
cleanwnd pure, opiates are usually taken orally
or by inhalation, often in cigarettes or pipes
(though even mainlining is not that dangerous,
so long as the syringe is sterile-as with
diabetics).
This 95 to 97 percent is made up of things like
sugar, quinine, talc, strychnine, and battery
acid. These other substances found in street
junk are often more dangerous than any drug.
And they account for most, if not all, of the
deaths too loosely but routinely called over-
doses.
HEROIN IS CUT because it is illegal, and
thus not subject to any quality controls. Cutting
the drug leads to bigger takes for all the mid-
dlemen and dealers along the line from poppy

to street. The result is a compound that hasy
very little heroin and sells for an incredible
price. An addict may have to spend from $50 to
$150 a day to supply his habit. And while cutting
a drug on the free market would lead to
lawsuits against a legal drug manufacturer, on
the black market cutting will hardly lead to
consumer complaints or lawsuits. An addict is
in no position to shop around or prosecute for
fraud.
We find, then, that the pseudo-medical four r'
dations of heroin prohibition are untenable.
Prohibition reduces the quality and drasticall.
increases the price of the drug-and is thereb
the basic cause of both the health hazards an
the crime related to heroin use.
Even if the drug did cause its users harm, the
case for prohibition would be very weak in a,
liberal society-alcohol is a very dangerous
drug, too (in fact, much more dangerous than;
heroin). But since it does not, in itself, caus'
harm, and in view of the other negative and
concomitant consequences of prohibition, the
only solution to the "heroin problem" is to
erase it at its root - by legalizing heroin.
The second part of this article will ap ,
pear in tomorrow's Opinion Page.
Stewart, a freelance writer, graduated
from the University in 1981.

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E1je idtudnat haiviy
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

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S 'l WJAI F e r

Vol. XCII, No. 144

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

An unbalanced amendment

it .- i c w - - -'1ti S r
RESIDENT REAGAN turned his;
sympathy for a balanced budget amen-
ent to the United States Constitution
tito official approval Wednesday
night.
-The amendment, currently cir-
eulating through the halls of Congress,
*ould make it illegal for the federal
jovernment to run a yearly budget
deficit. It would also place a lid on the
late at which the federal government
pan grow, forbidding its expansion to
exceed the pace of national income.
Although the amendment is being
jmblicized by its backers as the savior
:91 our national economy, in reality it is
dangerous and potentially disastrous
kdncept.
Practical experience should show
41iat the amendment is absurd. Putting
Jegal limits on federal deficit spending
ould result, in times of recession, in
m~assive panic tax hikes or massive
janic spending cuts, either of which
Could spell disaster for our economy.
: In addition, history should show our
lawmakers that deficit spending is of-
en necessary. If we had not been able
;o run a deficit during the Depression,
p~r nation would have suffered even
;ore in those black years. The
ecession of the early 1970s might have
.gotten further out of hand without
Washington's deficit spending.
Federal money spent with a budget,
4eficit is fundamental for restoring an
.economv suffering from a recession.
The citizens of Michigan should well
understand the dangers of this amen-.
tdment. The massive cuts in state ser-
vices suffered by Michigan residents
would have been unnecessary if the
state had not required its budget to

balance on, a yearly basis. Gov.
Milliken's request for an emergency
tax hike is part of Michigan's balanced
budget law, as are his numerous and
massive executive order budget cuts.
Michigan's legal halt on deficit spen-
ding is a classic example of what hap-
pens when a balanced budget is forced
upon a recession.
The most unfortunate thing about the
federal amendment is that it is gaining
congressional support. Along with
Reagan's official announcement, the
amendment has 60 sponsors in the
Senate and 170 in the House. The
Senate Judiciary Committee has
already passed the measure,- and the
issue will come up for debate in May.
The House has been somewhat more
cautious, mostly due to the efforts of
liberal representatives, but action is
forthcoming.
IfrCongress passes the balanced
budget amendment, it will then go the
same route as the Equal Rights Amen-
dment, requiring the ratification of 38
states before it becomes law.
Reagan had previously withheld
public support for the amendment
because his own deficit - $91.5 billion
for 1982 - was too embarrassing. It
was thought that he understood the
irrationality of such a proposal, but it
now seems as if he doesn't. The
president and conservative members
of Congress, in an attempt to make up
for their previous fiscal
mismanagement, are unfortunately
looking to the false prophet of the
legally balanced budget.
A balanced budget amendment,
however, is not only unbalanced, it is a
step toward fiscal disaster.

TWRDI
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ENERGY

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Saving money on costly Coursepacks"

To the Daily:
When it comes to buying texts
for classes, instructors have no
say in wh'ere students may buy
them. We can choose the store
that will sell books at the lowest
prices and buy them back for the

highest prices. This is true for
practically all course material
except coursepacks. We must
buy required coursepacks at
specific locations. We can't shop
around for the copy center with

Valuable trash

the best quality and the lowest'
price because someone else has
already done this for us.
After I spent almost $15 on a
coursepack that is at times
barely legible, I decided to check
into the available options. I
discovered the University has its
own printing department and
four central campus copy centers
which are capable of printing
coursepacks and selling them out
of an office in the LSA building.
The size of the printing depar-
tment operation makes it more
than adequate to handle the
University's course material
printing along with the 28 to 30
million copies it is already prin-

ting each year. The printing
department isn't in the cour-
sepack business for profit.
Buying a coursepack from them,
therefore, would eliminate the
middleman's mark-up and save
students up to half of what we
now pay.
Instructors should understand
the moneysituation most studen-
ts are facing; instructors should
check into all the alternatives
open to them. Students should
expect that their instructors are
using the copy center that w.l
print coursepacks with the best
quality at the lowest price.
-Pris Drew
March 26

To the Daily:
While supplies are dwindling'
and demands increasing, it is ob-
vious that we should all try to
conserve our natural resources.
Statistics show that given the
same amount of energy:
12 aluminum cans may be
produced from scrap while only
one may be produced from raw
materials;
With copper, six times as
much can be processed from

scrap as from virgin copper;
" With steel, lead, paper, rubber,
and zinc, two to three times as
much can be recycled as can be
produced from basic materials.
These facts illustrate that the
garbage of yesterday is fast
becoming one of our most
valuable resources. Please con-
serve now for tomorrow's sake.
-David Larson
Ann Arbor Ecology Center
April 1

4

Letters and columns represent the opinions of
individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect
attitudes or beliefs of the Daily.

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Letters and columns represent
the opinions of the individual
i# 1irth / c H/nn drb nt n nrZI1

Weasel

By Robert Lence

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