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April 03, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-04-03

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. _,. ,

OPINION
Saturday, April 3, 1982

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

The case for

making heroin

By David Stewart
The foundations of heroin prohibition are
popularly stated in medical terms. We are told
that, as the Supreme Court said in 1962, "To be
a confirmed drug addict is to be one of the
walking dead." Then a litany of physiological
woe is read, all attributable, we are told, to
heroin use.
The real medical consensus is otherwise. As
Dr. R. Brotman wrote in Comprehensive
Psychiatry, "Medical knowledge has lone since
laid to rest the myth that opiates inevitably and
observably harm the body."
OTHER REASONS for prohibition are often
given, too. Some people point out the high price
of black market heroin and assert that this
causes so much crime that heroin must remain
illegal, lest we face even more violence fom
addicts.
But this argument completely reverses cause
and effect. The artificially tight supply of
heroin causes the high prices; that tight supply
is the result of laws, not of nature. The effect of
legalizing heroin would be to drastically lower
the price of the drug. Thus, the crime that is
caused purely by the high price of heroin would
tend to disappear if the drug were made legal.
How can we predict the effect of legalization

on heroin prices? Heroin is a morphine
derivative. Morphine is legally available in the
United States, although it is tightly controlled.
It costs, at pharmacies, about 20 cents for a 30
milligram tablet. A 45 milligram per day
heroin habit is satiated by 125 milligrams of
morphine, whoch would cost about 85 cents; a
disposable syringe costs about a quarter.
LO AND BEHOLD, you have a daily habit
that is less expensive and less dangerous than a'
couple of packs of cigarettes or a pint of gin,
instead of one that costs-under present legal
conditions-75 to 150 times that much and
presents the user and his community with all
'kinds of dangers.
Still, how much crime legalization would
eliminate cannot be known. While some users
do commit crimes to support their habits, most
of these users were criminals before they took
up their habits. We simply don't know how
much crime is attributable to heroin-but we
do know that it is an effect of prohibition, not an
intrinsic concomitant of heroin use.
The health problems associated with heroin
also stem from the high black market price,
and thus from prohibition, rather than from the
drug itself. Rotten teeth, yellow skin, anemia,
collapsed veins, etc., result from unsanitary
environments, bad nutrition, and lack of dental

and medical care caused by the necessity to
spend most of one's money on an illegal, ar-
tifically costly drug.
THERE IS still the addiction, of course. But
until now I have acquiesced in the common
practice of talking about "addiction" as if it
were a definite medical term designating a
well-defined syndrome. It is not. No less an
enemy of heroin than criminologist James
Wilson says that "the very concept of 'addict' is
ambigious and somewhat misleading;" Dr.
Jerome Jaffe notes in a pharmacological text
that we could "describe all known patterns of
drug use without employing the terms addict or
addiction."
A term with more medical usefulness than
addiction is dependence-or physiological
balances in the body resulting from the chronic
use of a substance, such that regular use of the
substance is necessary in order to maintain
new balances and prevent a withdrawal syn-
drome.
While withdrawal may be very unpleasant
indeed-or as in the case of alcoholism, very
dangerous-this tells us little about the
physiological dangers of substance. And it does
not mean that dependence per se is dangerous.
Judged medically, heroin dependence is not
dangerous: it causes an organic or
physiological damage (aside from con-

stipation, and the risk of overdose that any
clearly-labelled drug presents-hence "use
only as directed"); it has no discernable
negative psychological effects.
JUDGED MEDICALLY. Ay, there's the rub.
Because, truth to tell, heroin use is hardly ever
judged medically. Rather, it is judged morally.
The very word heroin causes not physical so
much as moral revulsion; not the flesh, but the
spirit, creeps. And it is great for political
mileage. Only heroin and other verboten drugs
allow one to feel sympathy (for the "poor,
helpless enslaved addict"), hate (for the scum
who push the evil drug), and moral superiority
(after all, I don't neet it).
Let me, then, be the one to say it here:
Dependence on or use of heroin is not evil, it is
not the business of anyone but the user, and no
justification for a "war on heroin" exists.
I believe that even if it could be shown that a
drug damages a user's body or mind, it would
still be wrong to interfere with his choice to use
the drug. Every person owns his life and body,
and until a drug user violates or clearly ,
threatens others (such as driving drunk or
assaulting), there is no ground for interfering
with his liberty.
WHY DO LIBERALS and conservatives
alike generally endorse this reasoning when
the object of it is tacitly or explicitly under-

legal
stood to be to justify the non-prohibition of
alcohol-which all evidence shows to be vastly
- more dangerous than opiates, and which ap-
preciably impairs normal functioning-but
refuse to extend the principle to heroin?
There is no good answer. Either we adhere to
the principal of non-interference, or we adopt
the opposite principle-that the state has the
right to suppress behavior it deems harmful to
the individual's own good, even against the in-
dividual's will. Then we will have prohibition
back, and all of that principle's attendant evils
will follow in short order.
Yet, even so, I would be correct here. For heroin
is not dangerous to a person's health so long as
it is legal, regularly available, and administered
with normal care.
So I remain firmly planted here, on the side of
the heroin users-not in favor of use, but in
favor of the freedom to choose to use it. The use
of the drug must be recognized for what it is-a
matter of choice to be left to each person, out-
side the sphere of law and coercion.
Heroin. Legalize it.
This is the second part of a series on the
legalization of heroin.
Stewart, a freelance writer, graduated
from the University in 1981.

10

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Weasel

Vol. XCII, No. 145

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

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City Council choices

THE CHOICES FOR this year's City
Council elections run a straight
Democratic ticket. Though the First,
Third, and'Fifth Wards all have close
races shaping up fQr, the April 5 elec-
tion,, he Democrats seem to have
com1piled the strongest line of Fan-
didates.
In the First Ward race, newcomer
Democrat Larry Hunter is the obvious
choice for councilmember. In the
Third Ward, Democrat challenger
Raphael Ezekiel should give the Coun-
cil the idealism it needs, and should be
elected. And in the Fifth Ward, the
choice is harder, because the two can-
didates' platforms and attitudes match
each other closely, but Democrat
challenger Catherine Edgren seems
the better choice.
In the First Ward, Larry Hunter's
continued commitment to human ser-
Mces and the priority status he gives to
4rime prevention make him a logical
Choice. Hunter stresses the city's need for
-moderate and low-income health and
,dental care. Though the money source
for these projects is a bit sketchy, ad-
ditional social services are needed in
,Ann Arbor, and Hunter's ideas are
,useful, and should be given serious
consideration.
Republican Jeffery Gallatin, Hun-
~ter's First Ward opponent, has too
.many faults in his campaign to make a
good councilmember. Gallatin's plat-
*form of "anti-tenant abuse" seems
hypocritical in light of the recent ac-
,cusations leveled at him by some of his
own tenants. Though Gallatin's claim
:that he wants to "shake up City Coun-
cil" is laudable given the Council's oc-
*casional laxity, it seems irrelevant
,given the city's current fiscal crisis.
Hunter is the obvious choice for the
First Ward.
r In the Third Ward, Raphael Ezekiel
would inject an unconventional,

humane voice into the Council. At a
time when city leaders are more and
more, oriented toward cutting
programs, Ezekiel favors increasing
Ann Arbor's human services,
especially those helping low-income
residents. Ezekiel's idealistic platform
is all to t uncommon asĀ° the city's
current economic hardships continue
to worsen.
Incumbent Republican David
Fisher, Ezekiel's opponent, has a plat-
form that is already overrepresented
on the Council. Fisher favors im-
proving some city services, but he also
supports limiting gover-
nment-especially when it comes to
social programs. Fisher's fiscally con-
servative policy and his reputation as a
voice for business is not what Ann Ar-
bor needs more of as the city's social
programs become endangered.
Ezekiel is the choice to help balance
the Council with fresh views on social
services.
The choice for the Fifth Ward is the
toughest of all the Wards. Both can-
didate's platforms resemble each
other in many ways. Incumbent
Republican Joyce Chesbrough, and
newcomer Democrat Katherine
Edgren both support all the ballot
proposals, and have generally the
same attitude toward repairing the
city. Chesbrough is more experienced
than Edgren, but her record does not
point to that much accomplishment.
Admittedly, Edgren is raw, but her
willingness to attempt new housing
plans may be what the city needs to
develop itself economically.
Both candidates show a strong sup-
port for Ann Arbor culture, which is a
plus for either candidate, but Edgren
claims to want more student interac-
tion in city government, and that is
always a benefit for the University
voter.
Though the race is close in the Fifth
Ward, Edgren is a bit more deserving
of a place on the City Council.

Nestle ights formula charges

By R. D. Pagan, Jr.
I recently became aware that, although
there is a tremendous concern on your cam-
pus for the health of children in developing
countries-a 'concern. Nestle shares
deeply-our company's policies and practices
have been misrepresented.
Whether this effort is a deliberate one to
transmute honest concern into whatever end
is sought, I cannot say. But I firmly believe
that each student deserves no less than the
truth, that our company deserves no less than
justice and fairness, and that those suffering
in developing countries from malnutrition
deserve effective actions that will help solve
the problems facing them.
A SHORT TIME ago, Nestle announced that
it is unilaterally implementing the World
Health Organization's Recommended Code
for the marketing of infant formula-a code
adopted as a recommendation in May after
more than a decade of debate, discussion and
research by the world's medical health
leaders.

Nestle has issued specific and detailed in-
structions to all its managers and agents who
market the infant formula to effect,
unilaterally, the WHO guidelines in all coun-
tries that have not yet developed their own
national codes. These instructions-which in-
clude the removal of baby illustrations from
the labels of infant formula, the specific in-
forhation to be communicated to health
professionals, as well as Nestle's continued
abstinence from 'mass media advertising,
direct mail sampling to mothers and par-
ticipation in trade or consumer promotions of
any kind-have garnered the satisfaction of
and have been welcomed by the World Health
Organization itself.
At the same time, Nestle announced for-
mation of an independent marketing ethics
audit committee to ensure compliance with
the Code in these countries.
WE BELIEVE these initiatives are con-
sistent with Nestle's tradition of industry
leadership and cooperation with the health
and medical community. Indeed, Nestle was
also the only major infant formula manufac-
turer to announce its support for the aim and

principles of the WHO Recomnended Code.
Nestle was honored to be invited to par-
ticipate in hearings held on the Code by the
U.S. House of Representatives in June, where
Nestle reiterated its support for the Code.
Since that time, Nestle has been an active
participant in discussions with governments
to encourage development of national codes.
Nestle will continue to fulfill its commit-
ment of improving nutrition worldwide, and
will continue to direct extensive research and
resources against the interrelated problems
of malnutrition, lack of sanitation and disease
that exist in developing areas of the world.
Objective questioning, however spirited,
has value when it leads to truth and under-
standing. It is when one simply accepts
emotional presentations and disregards the
thorough and careful research techniques
characteristic of academia, that grave in-
justices are committed.
Pagan is the president of the Nestle
CoordinatiOn Center for Nutrition,
which is based in Washington, D. C.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Ignoring the Holocaust conference

To the Daily:
Only one week after Nazis
marched in the streets of Ann Ar-
bor the Daily gave no coverage at
all to a major Conference on the
Holocaust at the University. How
ironic that such a momentous
world event as Greek Week
merited a full page spread
(Daily, March, 31), yet not one
single paragraphor picture paid
notice to the Holocaust conferen-
ce.
Learning about the Holocaust
and its relevance to our contem-
porary lives is a.moral obligation
we have to the victims of Nazi

persecution and to ourselves. A
genuine response to anti-
Semitism and other forms of
racism today requires under-
standing on our part of the evils
perpetrated by the Nazis and
their collaborators during the
Holocaust. It is with these beliefs
that several Jewish and Christian
groups began to organize an an-
nual University conference three
years ago.
Apparently the Daily believes
that it is more important to make
public pronouncements from its
editorial page opposing Nazism
than to educate its readers about

the infamous history of the Nazi
era. But it is not enough to merely
editorialize and pontificate when
Nazis come to town. Confronting
Nazism and what it represents is
an ongoing process in which sin-
cere and responsible journalists
ought to be involved.

It is shameful that the Daily'
ignored the Conference on the
Holocaust. I believe the Daily
owes an explanation to the con-
ference organizers and, more
importantly, to its readers.
-Jeffrey Colman
April 1

Hash Bash appreciation

Hypocritical attack

To the Daily :
While many contend that the
annual event of the Hash Bash
has lost its purpose, I strongly
believe that it now reflects our
biggest problem at the Univer-
sity-student apathy.
At one time the Hash Bash had
political motives, but in recent
time it has only had a
recreational purpose. As I heard
many students downgrade the
Hash Bash yesterday, I wondered
what could possibly be wrong

change conditions in their en-
vironment. I cannot comprehend
how some people are content with
a college life consisting of the
library, football games, and piz-
za. Grades are not everything in
this world.
As college students, we should
borrow some time from ourselves
and unite. Instead of crying about
the evils of our world, we should
do something. We have the
power, we should use it.
As for the Hash Bash, I will be

.v--y vi'v}'v " ::::: w: :::......i .. ..v .:.. ...... .<. . . .....;...:::: :: :::: . .. .. .'*..

To the Daily:
I must commend you for Sun-
day's editorial (Daily, March 21),
possibly the 'best I have seen in
for as o re ading the Dailv.

In this case, the hypocritical
anti-Nazis resorted to the same
tactics of violence and in-
timidation that they commonly
attrihute tn Nazis and rnndly

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