We all know the tragic story of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from an overdose of heroin. This has reinforced the voices of the anti-marijuana scolds who claim – without any scientific evidence – that smoking the “evil weed” leads to addiction to other substances such as heroin. Ironically, medical marijuana is known to alleviate pain (among other conditions) and heroin was originally developed as a less addictive synthetic substitute for morphine, a marvelous pain medication. Rather than banning either substance, I feel that a good case can be made for legalizing them, especially heroin.
The reason we see pictures of dead addicts with the needle and syringe still stuck in their arms is because they have died of an overdose. (Hoffman was reportedly found this way.) The key word is “overdose.” Hoffman did not know how much he was getting. Heroin in and of itself does not cause death; too much of it does. Heroin’s major side effects are mostly constipation and loss of teeth. If heroin were legalized and one could buy it from a trusted source such as the government, the exact dosage would be known and no one would be found dead with a needle protruding from his arm. Addiction is a disastrous affliction, but no one need die of it. // Dr. Howard T. Bellin