If a person is overdosing on an illegal narcotic and his friends are too afraid of the legal repercussions to call 911, is the death the fault of the frightened friends, or that of the law?
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Of the nearly 2,000 people who died in Florida last year after using cocaine, many overdosed in front of fellow drug users who were too afraid to call 911.”
They had reason to be afraid. The vast majority of people in prison are there for non-violent drug offenses. Although cocaine – along with methamphetamine – hardly top the list of drugs that have legalization movements behind them, it would be constructive if U.S. law allowed those who are overdosing to seek medical attention without legal repercussion.
Statewide, cocaine-related deaths are rising – as many as 15 deaths per 100,000 citizens per year in some places. The reason why? State drug czar Bill Janes told a group of professionals who work with issues related to drug addiction at a forum entitled “Cocaine: A Call for Action” that “There is tremendous ignorance of this problem.”
There is absolutely no reason that there should be ignorance of drugs, considering the amount of money the United States spends every year fighting the problem. The United States has a highly funded Drug Enforcement Agency. The state of Florida, as well as many other states, employ drug czars who champion expensive programs devoted to educating and preventing drug addiction and drug-related death.
Possession of drugs – or even drug paraphernalia – carries some of the most severe legal penalties. There are even stories of some drug offenders serving longer prison sentences than murderers. Despite this, drug-related deaths are on the rise, and law enforcement officials maintain the availability of drugs to a populace uneducated about their use is one of the leading reasons for drug-related deaths.
One of the ideas to solve this problem, which was mentioned at the “Cocaine: A Call for Action” forum, is immunity for drug users who are in the unfortunate situation of having to contact authorities while in the possession of narcotics.
Although it’s a good idea, it’s really just a start. Drugs have not – and will not – go away. There is no safe way to use cocaine or meth, but there are methods that are safer than others – not mixing cocaine with painkillers, for instance. Education about that fact might help prevent the need to call 911 in the first place.