Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jul 1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: Emrys Nekvapil


MR PARRETT's consistent misrepresentation of the heroin problem is
tiresome. In his letter, "Heroin plan at odds with tobacco laws" (Letters,
8 July), he seems again to have completely missed the point about "illegal
drugs" (I presume he is referring mainly to heroin) that they kill
precisely because they are illegal.

If heroin were legalised, it would be a regulated scheme of prescription
for registered users. Therefore to say that by legalising the use of heroin
the current deaths will increase "to 17,000" annually, as per tobacco, is
an unforgiveable misuse of logic. The Penington Report indicates that a
regulated dosage of pure heroin is virtually harmless physically. Thus, if
heroin were to be legalised, the number of deaths wouldn't increase;
precisely the opposite, it would drop to almost none.

The adoption of a harm-minimisation approach would not be "promoting the
use of illegal killers" (as Parrett asserts) because the drugs won't be
illegal and they won't be killing anyone. Making a drug available by
prescription is hardly "promoting" it in the same way that popular culture
and advertising have "promoted" tobacco (Mr Parrett would have us draw this
exact parallel).

Four of my Canberran friends, all aged between 19 and 21, died last year as
a result of heroin overdose. If they had had a supply of clean heroin they
would be alive and productive today. The longer we delay the inevitable
adoption of a harm-minimisation approach to heroin, the more my friends,
and Canberra's youth, will continue to die.


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