Stringer Bell goes legit?
February 28, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

In a recent report for the Abell Foundation, University of Maryland Criminologist Peter Reuter asks whether, in light of the evidence from Switzerland, The Netherlands and elsewhere, Baltimore might not be the best place to try the first US heroin maintenance programme?
posted by PeterMcDermott (17 comments total)
 
"Why you got to go and fuck with the program?" -Fruit
posted by The White Hat at 9:20 AM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


America's drug war seems too profitable to end, making too much money for weapons manufacturers, law enforcement, and the dealers who profit from drug sales and lend profit to police and politicians for protection. Further, it seems that it would not only take a courageous public to support HAT initiatives in spite of moneyed interests, even if the science is correct, but a city government capable of administering public policy. Is Baltimore capable on that level?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:23 AM on February 28, 2009


Stringer Bell's working for Wockhardt now?
posted by daksya at 9:43 AM on February 28, 2009


just say no. then you don't have to worry about drug programmes.
posted by billybobtoo at 9:54 AM on February 28, 2009


In anticipation of some likely concerns, here are some key points from this report.

Though it is difficult to develop a research design that would assess changes in initiation, no one has claimed that the availability of HAT has led to an increase in the number of persons experimenting with heroin.

Heroin maintenance is a troubling public policy intervention. As Neil McKegany (2008) argues, it appears to condemn the patient to a lifetime of addiction, serviced by the government. However, in Switzerland and Germany the data suggest that HAT might be, for many clients, a transitional rather than terminal state. If that is the case, then the argument for HAT is substantially strengthened.

Benedikt Fischer and colleagues (2007), after reviewing the scientific evidence, concluded by saying, “The pressure was primarily on science to produce the evidence basis on HAT—the pressure is now on politics to use the evidence generated in the interest of reduced harms and costs related to the problem of heroin addiction”.

posted by daksya at 10:01 AM on February 28, 2009


Given how poorly Baltimore was run from a city government perspective even in boom times (did the city ever even experience an urban renewal in the last 10 years?), probably the last thing on the priority list of the Baltimore City Council is a heroin program, now that the economic shit has hit the fan nationwide. No?
posted by spicynuts at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2009


Stringer Bell is incapable of going legit.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 10:29 AM on February 28, 2009


(did the city ever even experience an urban renewal in the last 10 years?)

It did. Not a dramatic one, but then it was spared the worst of the subsequent crash.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2009


“The pressure was primarily on science to produce the evidence basis on HAT—the pressure is now on politics to use the evidence generated in the interest of reduced harms and costs related to the problem of heroin addiction”.

That's right. One of the problems here politically is that heroin addiction puts you in a criminal class automatically, but Rush Limbaugh can come clean about his oxycodone problem and that's that, though it's really the same addiction. Even if you're using opioids for pain management, you still have to taper off. Maintenance is just an extension of the same idea, that the dependence on the drug is not in itself that harmful if done under medical supervision with clean supply, and if a person can be weaned off the drug gradually. Public health policy should be directed to workable solutions, but there is a strong social sentiment against addicts, particularly of illegal substances, whether it's more harmful or not than the legal substances already available.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:34 AM on February 28, 2009


"Given how poorly Baltimore was run from a city government perspective even in boom times (did the city ever even experience an urban renewal in the last 10 years?), probably the last thing on the priority list of the Baltimore City Council is a heroin program, now that the economic shit has hit the fan nationwide. No?"

Perhaps, but then what does that say for a country like Iran, which is facing much more serious heroin addiction problems right now? Do we just throw good ideas out the window because the problems might be difficult to face?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:37 AM on February 28, 2009


Somewhere, Bunny Colvin is laughing his ass off...
posted by nonliteral at 11:28 AM on February 28, 2009


I could see drug policy shifting from two ends. The California medical marijuana angle expanding under a more hands-off Federal approach, with the facts on the ground of a large producer, distribution and user base forcing policy to catch up with reality:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/28/080728fa_fact_samuels

And then the other angle of a more progressive urban response to violent hard drug distribution enterprises. At some point municipalities will figure out that it's better to tax and legitimize the huge black and gray market economies that are going on under their noses, rather than going throgh the motions of the drug war.

http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=17425

I don't see the current Baltimore mayor being very proactive in this area, but on the other hand, she's been indicted and may not get a second term in any case so she may have little to lose. (Unless she can leverage Aschelius, Clay Davis style, and beat the rap.) There's been talk of a more medical approach here for years. Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke was talking up decriminalization back in the 80's, and health commissioners have often touted treatment over incarceration. As others have said, there's a to of cash being made off the current system, but little if any makes it into anything resembling city services or renewal efforts.
posted by jetsetsc at 12:30 PM on February 28, 2009


Stringer Bell is incapable of going legit.

Did you watch Season 3? No such beast as "legit," I'm afraid.
posted by ford and the prefects at 12:33 PM on February 28, 2009


Stringer Bell's working for Wockhardt now?

Could be:
Current developments include a new style of corporate packaging which has recently been introduced on our diamorphine packs, and is due to be rolled out across the product range in the coming months.
Perhaps this is one of Stringer's new branding initiatives?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:32 PM on February 28, 2009


did the city ever even experience an urban renewal in the last 10 years?

What are you talking about? I've only been in Baltimore since 2003 and even I can tell the differences between the city then and now. People who have been in the city longer say in many areas it's like night and day. No, the city isn't a land of happy rainbows and unicorns--to say the East and West sides remain troubled is an understatement--but it's a lot better than it used to be. And like ChurchHatesTucker says, it's not being stabbed apart by the economic meltdown the way other cities (and states!) have been.
posted by schroedinger at 2:53 PM on February 28, 2009


Hamsterdam!
posted by jckll at 6:37 PM on February 28, 2009


Baltimore is a very real and very human place. human meaning lots of lies, shortcuts, secret handshakes. Some creativity and compassion a by-product of some unavoidable and nasty chemical reactions. Its real, the un-Disneyland. As for heroin reform, I have no idea what I think, if not jail then zombification? ugh. .God Bless America land of the free to fuck everything up. I am soo glad not to be a coke or heroin addict. There are lots of them , black and white. Good luck , everybody ...
posted by celerystick at 11:05 PM on February 28, 2009


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