In a recent speech in Ohio, one of areas seeing some of the worst effects from the opiate crisis, Donald Trump said that he plans on treating this problem with more of the same “toughness” that has been failing for decades.

At a speech this week in Cincinnati, Trump said that the heroin problem in America “has never been worse,” adding that, “People form blue ribbon committees. They do everything they can. And frankly, I have a different take on it. My take is you have to get really, really tough, really mean with the drug pushers and the drug dealers.”

Arresting drug dealers will do nothing but fill prisons up with more nonviolent offenders as they will simply be replaced by competitors as soon as they are taken off the streets. As long as the financial incentive is there for people to sell drugs, there will continue to be drug dealers, and it is the prohibition of drugs that increases the price and thus the incentive to get involved in the drug trade.

It is also a fact that the rise of Fentanyl, is a direct result of the prohibition of heroin.

A new trend of cutting the drug with the very strong post-surgery painkiller Fentanyl is largely to blame for the recent spike in deaths that are occurring around the country. Fentanyl is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 40 to 50 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade (100% pure) heroin.

In the black market, one of the major drawbacks is that there is no accountability among the people selling the drug. Since anyone can get kidnapped and thrown in a cage for even dealing with the stuff, it really doesn’t make sense for people to be plastering their names and logos all over the drugs.

In this age of corporate mercantilism logos and branding may seem like a really tacky idea, but when looking at the black market we can see the value in such things. Someone who is selling a product with their name on it, is going to go through far greater lengths to ensure the quality of their product, as opposed to someone who would remain anonymous.

The anonymity creates an incentive for people to be dishonest with what they sell, leading to rip-offs or downright contamination of the drug with unwanted harmful substances. This is why there was bathtub gin that would make you go blind if you drank it during alcohol prohibition. This is also the reason why some of the harder street drugs today are cut with toxic chemicals that increase the chance of overdose ten fold. The fact that the drugs need to be smuggled also creates the incentive to make drugs more potent, and thus, in some circumstances more dangerous.

The increased potency and decreased availability inevitably leads to a massive increase in cost. The increased cost is a whole other issue with its own unique side effects in regards to drug safety. When the price of the real drugs go up, people just start huffing paint thinner, smoking bath salts and cooking up crystal meth in their basements, which is then even many times more dangerous than the unbranded drugs on the black market.

If you want to stop the overdoses, decrease crime, and deal a death blow to the for-profit prison system, there is a simple solution – End the War on Drugs.

Roughly 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, according to data from the CDC.


Image: Branislav Cerven/Shutterstock.