U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice insist that they are taking swift action to curtail drug trafficking and are stemming the tide of heroin overdoses and prescription drug use in America. Yet at the same time, Holder is making it easier for legal marijuana users to sell their product and have access to banks.
The blaring contradiction is obvious when you consider a new study that asserts marijuana is indeed a gateway drug to heroin. The study demonstrated that “cannabis has very long-term, enduring effects on the brain,” according to Dr. Jasmin Hurd of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, who led the study. Essentially the study found evidence in support of the gateway hypothesis that adolescent cannabis exposure contributes to greater intake in adulthood.
The thrust of the attorney general’s new drug law program will call for more law enforcement agencies to train and equip personnel with an overdose-reversal medication called naloxone. Holder claims that 17 states and the District of Columbia implemented a program to increase access to naloxone, which has proven to reverse the effects of an overdose and helps to restore breathing.
Fatal heroin overdoses have steadily increased from 2006 to 2010. The 2010 number was up over 45%, with 3,038 deaths reported that year, according to the DEA. The increase runs parallel with the increase in oxycodone and other opiate prescription drugs over the same period. Frequently, drug users will become more tolerant to their prescription opiates and will seek stronger and cheaper heroin, which they can easily buy on the street.
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman last month has brought the issue of heroin use to the media forefront. Hoffman died in his NYC penthouse of an accidental heroin overdose, with the syringe he used to shoot up with still embedded in his arm.