Only people ignorant of the true history of addictive drug use blame the drugs for the tragedies connected to drug addiction.

Checking newspaper archives from 1880 to 1909 reveals the fact that no one was robbing, whoring and murdering to get drugs when addicts could buy all of the heroin, morphine, cocaine and anything else they wanted cheaply and legally at the corner pharmacy. A legal heroin habit cost less than tobacco addiction (50¢ per week) and “drug crime” was unknown. Search the historic archives in vain trying to find robberies, burglaries or assaults associated with drugs when they were legal. The term “drug crime” is an invention of prohibitionists trying to cover the effects of their failed drug policy.

In the United States, unintentional opiate overdose deaths were extremely rare before drugs were outlawed. Almost all drug deaths before the Harrison Narcotic Act were suicides. Nowadays, the Drug Czar tells us there are more than 30,000 accidental drug deaths every year. The term “drug death” is an alibi to cover the deadly effects of drug prohibition. Most drug fatalities in those days were caused by suicides and a few murders, but accidental overdose deaths were exceedingly rare.

Proof that hard-line drug policies cause drug crimes and drug deaths comes from the Swiss Heroin Maintenance Program where addicts are supplied with cheap, pure heroin and cocaine. The Swiss have not had a single overdose death in the program, and injection-transmitted diseases (HIV/AIDS, Hep C, etc.) are now a rarity in Switzerland.

The criminal drug black market has vanished in Switzerland since the Swiss began providing addicts with cheap, legal drugs. The success of the Swiss Heroin Maintenance Program in causing a more than 97 percent reduction in addict crime in Switzerland is something drug crusaders do not want to discuss.

Swiss policy has also resulted in an 82 percent decrease in heroin addiction since 1990, which is unequaled by any American drug policy. Besides these concrete benefits, the Swiss report saving over $100 per day per addict in police, incarceration and health care expenses. The Swiss are so pleased with the results of Heroin Maintenance that they made this their national drug policy.

Using jail cells to treat addicts has not achieved similar success anywhere in the world since 1914. Anyone truly concerned about the victims of drugs will work to end an immoral drug crusade that murders more than 30,000 people every year and spawns a multitude of criminal activity.

Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and thousands of others would still be alive if it were not for a brain dead drug war policy that saves people by killing them.

Ignorance and good intentions are no excuse for continuing a destructive drug crusade.

Redford Givens is webmaster for the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy.