Heroin Is Harmless

At a hearing to determine the future of heroin on April 3rd 1924, a congressional committee heard evidence from many expert witnesses.

The US surgeon general of the time, Rupert Blue, declared heroin "poisonous" and said it caused insanity. Dana Hubbard of the New York City health department concluded: "Heroin addicts spring from sin and crime...Society in general must protect itself from the influence of evil, and there is no greater peril than heroin"

Unsurprisingly, the US banned heroin on the spot. Shortly afterwards they embarked on a worldwide campaign to eradicate this evil. Thus began the "War On Drugs".

Problem was, nothing said at the hearing was true.

The truth

"Virtually ever 'fact' testified to under oath by the medical and criminological experts in 1924...was unsupported by any sound evidence," says Professor Arnold Trebach, specialist in illegal drugs.

"We cannot find any medical research from any source which will support the international governmental contention that heroin harms the body or the mind of its users," concluded a recent Guardian \ Channel 4 investigation into heroin. "Nor can we find any trace of our government or the American government or any other ever presenting or referring to any credible version of any such research. On the contrary, all of the available research agrees that, so far as harm is concerned, heroin is likely to cause some nausea and possibly severe constipation and that is all."

Heroin generally does not cause malnutrition, moral-collapse, or sickness. Death by overdose is possible but not that common, thanks to the wide safety margin between a therapeutic and a lethal dose.

One thing causes heroin related illnesses, crime and death: the black market

The black market

Heroin only becomes dangerous when it is made illegal. "There is no drug known to man which becomes safer when its production and distribution are handed over to criminals" says Professor Norman Zinberg who led a study into drug addiction at Harvard Medical School.

Criminals dilute the purity of heroin, cutting it with baby milk powder, starch, curry powder. Adulterants injected into the veins of users cause sores, septicaemia, blood clots, and gangrene. Dirty needles add collapsed arteries, hepatitis C, and HIV to the mix. Overdose is a real threat to street users who deal with fluctuating heroin quality, varying wildly between 20% and 90% pure. Black market prices force addicts to steal or go without food to pay for their habit.

"For those who are addicted, prohibition inflicts danger and death. Needlessly. Water would become dangerous if it were banned and handed over to a criminal black market."

Governments manufacture myths to support their actions. The first casualty of war is the truth. The War On Drugs, by prohibiting, penalizing, and withholding information about drugs, is creating the very problems it is attempting to stamp out.