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Some persons may crave the drug without being dependent, others may be dependent without craving it. ” . . . No one knows how many users of various kinds there are, at what rate they have been increasing in number or what happens to them at the end of their ‘run’. That they have increased in number is revealed not only by the testimony of police and narcotics offers, but by figures on deaths attributed to heroin… . [W] hile there are apparently no specific pathologies serious illnesses or physiological deterioration that are known to result ‘from heroin use per se, the addict does run the risk of infections caused by the use of unsterile needles, or poisoning as a result of shooting an overdose \(or a manageable dose that has thrombosed veins as a result of repeated injections. .. . 44 JUST AS it is wrong to suppose that an unwitting youth has heroin ‘pushed’ on him, so also it is wrong to suppose that these youths only then turn to crime to support their habit. Various studies of known addicts have shown that between half and three-quarters were known to be delinquent before turning to drugs. . . . We labor under the misapprehension that law enforcement should concentrate on the ‘pushers’ and the ‘big connections’ and not on the At thirty Gap-torn and race-shattered, Waste-fouled and weeping. Moping, yet hoping. And answers lie sleeping. War-flogged and worrying That should we add a child, To the end we’ll be hurrying. And wise men are reviled. Some find their truths in love, While to others, that’s a crime. And past lessons we shove Up the rectum of time. PHILIP VINSON Fort Worth 20 The Texas Observer innocent user. The last reason may be the weakest of all, even if among tough-minded politicians it is the most common. In the first place, the ‘pusher’ is largely a myth, or more accurately, he is simply the addict playing another one of his roles. And the ‘big connection’ and the ‘top dealers,’ who indeed exist and who generally are not users, are in many ways the least important part of the heroin market system because they are the most easily replaced. A new `connection’ arises for every one put out of business. The amount of heroin seized by federal agents is only a fraction of what is-imported. ” … Whatever politics may require, the key element in the heroin market will not be the poppy grower, the heroin smuggler or the drug dealer. There are any number of alternative ways to perform each of these functions. The indispensable element is the heroin user. “If nothing else, this discussion of the complexities of heroin use, marketing and control should suggest the futility of arguments between the so-called ‘punitive’ and ‘medical’ approaches to addiction, the simplistic nature of unqualified recommendations that we adopt the ‘British system,’ and the imprecision of angry disputes between those who wish to ‘get tough’ on ‘pushers’ and those who wish to ‘decriminalize’ heroin. “Beyond that, thinking about heroin requires one first of all to decide how one will handle the underlying philosophical issue namely, whether the state is ever justified in protecting people from themselves or whether it can only intervene to protect an innocent party from the actions of someone else. Put another way, the question is whether the state has any responsibility for the quality of human life in those cases where the result of freely exercised choice with no external effects on other parties.” As long as Dolph Briscoe persists in talking about “pushers” and “the living death of heroin addiction,” legislators should ignore him. He simply does not know what he’s talking about. The heroin issue is far too complex to be handled with a headline and a few snappy phrases. It could take years of deliberation and research to come up with a meaningful approach to the problem. Linking marijuana reform to a possibly irrational purge of hard drug vendors is nothing more than political expediency. Those working to change the marijuana laws should be wary of such a compromise. We’re just now getting around to correcting the ignorant mistakes of legislators who decided 40 years ago, without proper research, that marijuana was the killer weed. We should not be stampeded into passing new heroin legislation while in a similarly uninformed state of panic. K.N.