The rise of opioid overdoses can be traced back to Nixon’s 1970 law
The government attempts to control our behavior in a number of ways: business and occupational licensing, tax deductions & credits, driving and parking tickets, rent control, zoning laws, hidden taxes, welfare, regulations…
The worst form of government restriction is outright prohibition. The Eighteenth Amendment to the constitution which banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating beverages led to economic havoc, gave birth to bootlegging, and paved the way for the rise of the Mafia.
The government learned its lesson and repealed the Eighteenth Amendment with the Twenty-First Amendment.
But the government forgot our history. Under President Richard Nixon, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 was signed into law. Here begins your War on Drugs (WOD).
Drug Overdoses Kill More Americans
WOD has led to several unintended consequences, the worst of which is drug overdose. Accidental drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among individuals under the age of 50. This surpasses deaths caused by homicides, firearms, deaths by a police officer, or car accidents.
When risky products (such as heroin and cocaine) are supplied in an unregulated (black) market, it is consumers that suffer the most. Illegal street drugs may contain different potency levels or may be mixed with other substances that a consumer would have no knowledge of. A bad concoction can easily lead to an unintended drug overdose.
No such legal options exist in an illegal market.
Drug Prevention Programs Have Little Effect
Banishing or over-regulating risky products has contributes to unforeseen consequences, as we’ve seen with WOD and Prohibition.
Drug prevention is also problematic as individuals have different appetites for risk. “Just Say No,” only appeals to the most risk-averse of the population. These individuals would have likely not engaged in risky behavior or engaged with risky products anyway.