On January 20th, there was a “Unity Rally” held on this campus, but in reality, there was no call for unity, but a protest against President Trump and conservatives. After the rally, there were classes on protesting, yet no forum for discussion to bring unity amongst different views. This event appeared to be organized by faculty and professors, which were not very inviting when asked about a unity discussion.
Later that evening, there was protest at the Seattle campus against a speaker that turned violent. I am sure it began as a peaceful protest, yet soon it became violent and made it impossible for those that wanted to attend the event to get into the venue. I support protesting, but I do not support shutting down opposing voices or views.
I wonder — is the wrong message being sent out to those seeking education here? As an institution of higher learning, why is protesting being taught and not the art of discussion? Why are there not many forums being organized to allow various points of view to be heard? Have we given up on encouraging discourse and promoting protesting?
I ask this now because I have friends that are giving up on their search for knowledge here because their views are no longer invited or wanted. Professors, can you assist? Diversity encouraged?
Brian G. Hess
I am writing this letter in regards to the opinion article titled “Why heroin should be legal”. Many points made in the piece were focused around the user and their potential response to the drug if it were made legal, and it suggested that many reasons for the deaths of users were because of the policies banning it. What concerns me is the article’s tone suggesting that the side effects to heroin are not important, and, when it comes to a regulated market, there will not be people abusing the supply. I find this to be a sugar coated idea of what will really happen.
For people who do not know what heroin is made out of, it is essentially man made. Similar to opium and morphine, heroin is made from the resin of poppy plants. When first removed it is a sap like opium that is made into morphine, and then, after refining the product several times, heroin is made. Once taken the drug gives the body a “rush” to which people describe as a warm feeling. After this the “high” begins and, as the user experiences their mental euphoria, their body slows, causing, at times, their breathing and heartbeat to stop. Now even if the body continues to function, this does not stop other side effects such as whole body pain, severe itching, and vomiting.
In the article, it is stated that “Legalizing heroin would reduce the harms of heroin use and promote recovery from addiction”. Although, this may be true for some people. The majority of the population of drug users are not harmed by the banning of it. In fact, they are more likely to overdose on the drug because of the consistent use and cravings they have. Statistics from the National Institute of Drug Abuse shows that just in 2015 alone, an estimated over 12,000 people overdosed on heroin. Over 8,000 of those deaths were men and over 2,000 of them were women. Now, the whole idea of a “regulated market” is, I would hope, to wean the people off the drug. Since the long term effects of heroin include bad teeth, inflamed gums, cold sweats, weakened immune system, coma, respiratory illnesses, paralysis, impotence, loss of memory, and depression. With this idea of a regulated market, I would agree a process to promote recovery would be good. In fact, knowing the contents and potency of the drug and being protected from impurities and overdoses is already being done- in recovery centers.
The article mentions recovery centers in briefly stating that there are “Heroin maintenance programs — first pioneered in Switzerland — [using] clean needles to administer pharmaceutical grade heroin to addicts at a dose just high enough for them to function.” It is true in the fact that these programs are effective in returning the lives of drug addicts back to functioning productive ones. The only factor here is that it is administered by a prescription by a doctor. It is not “legal” in the sense that you can go walk around on the street with it. It is given in a treatment facility with the end goal of giving the patient a drug free state. If the patient decides to leave that facility, then they do not receive the prescription. Now, in the medical sense, heroin could be used as a substitution for morphine. It is much more potent when injected because of it being more soluble in solvents such as fats. However, with that rapid effect comes the just as quick absorption, and, in turn, fades faster than administering morphine.
When it comes to the point the article makes about Portugal’s decriminalization of all drugs, the White House published a fact sheet in 2010 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It gives an overview of the new law stating that Portugal “refers cases of consumption, purchase, or possession of up to a ten days’ supply of an illicit drug to an administrative panel, which makes recommendations for treatment, fines, warnings, or other penalties. Trafficking and cultivation of illicit substances, as well as possession of quantities exceeding a ten days’ supply, remain criminal offenses”. The fact sheet goes on to list the limitations it has in proving that Portugal’s law has in fact had a beneficial effect. It claims how Portugal’s report on the matter does not discuss the statistical significance of data shifts, the decline in drug-related deaths before the decriminalization, and evidence that shows the increase in drug use between 2001-2007 of ages 15-24 and 20-24. Evidence of which shows an increase of heroin lifetime prevalence rates. In summary of the fact sheet, the Office of National Drug Control Policy found that there was not enough supportive evidence that proves the benefits of Portugal’s drug decriminalization.
By the end of the article, I felt the main idea shift. More so from legalizing heroin to actually seeing the issue of heroin dependency as a medical issue instead of criminal, which, in my opinion, is an entirely different article. When it comes down to addicts seeking treatment, there is a rule of thumb. People who need help will not get help until they want help. Want. That is the distinguishing factor. To legalize heroin would just make the lives of addicts already struggling even harder. If there would be one thing we would could do to help promote recovery, it would be to get the price of recovery centers down. In many cases, addicts cannot afford care, and, in not being able to receive help, continue to use. It is not the policies banning the drug, it is the access of help we should be concerned about.