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How long must we fail before we try new approach to drugs?

By in Press Enterprise on September 15, 2017

By Sal Rodriguez

This week’s bust of a fentanyl-manufacturing lab in the Wood Streets neighborhood of Riverside was only the latest iteration of a growing problem in the Inland Empire.

At least three fentanyl-related investigations have been carried out in the past few months, with two drug labs found in the city of Riverside and one man arrested in Lake Elsinore.

Fentanyl, described by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a potent synthetic opioid that is “approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic,” has become a growing factor in the national opioid overdose problem.

Due to its potency, unscrupulous drug dealers and traffickers lace other opioids like heroin with fentanyl. The predictable consequence has been a sharp increase in overdoses across the country.

As much as most politicians want to ignore it, the problem of opioid overdoses and widespread fentanyl production has everything to do with the folly that is our failed, decades-long policy of drug prohibition.

There’s a reason people aren’t dying from tainted alcohol or tobacco products: they’re legal.

We learned nearly a century ago that alcohol prohibition was a foolish policy that only benefited organized crime. But whereas that failure was conceded after a decade, we are half a century into our new War on Drugs and have only seen worse outcomes.

How many more people have to die and how many more billions of dollars must we spend before we consider a new approach to drugs?

There is unlikely to be any end in sight, for President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have focused much of their rhetoric about opioids on more crackdowns, more arrests and of course the delusional idea that “the wall” will make any meaningful difference.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, co-authored Senate Bill 176 to enhance sentences related to fentanyl and […]    

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