Almost all users iniate heroin use when they are young risk-takers. They are myopic in outlook with high discount rates. There are significant health risks of using heroin – your mortality each year is around 2% above the rest of the population. Heroin use is not a rational choice and there are no rational addicts.
I had argued that there were in fact few health risks associated with long term heroin usage. I don’t refute the higher mortality rate but it is primarily due to issues of legality and uncertain doseage. However lets assume for the moment that Heroin is a killer and ponder what we might do to reduce the number of children trying such drugs in the first place. A whitepaper published earlier this year by the CATO Institute looks at the situation in Portugal.
On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were “decriminalized,” not “legalized.” Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense.
The full report is worth a look. Of specific interest is the following chart which shows that following decriminalisation drug usage amoungst school students has actually declined. I wonder if this great news will persuade people like Harry to think of the children.