Heroin in New England -- Cheaper, Purer Than Ever 1/9/98

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On December 31, Reuters News Service reported that New England is now the fastest-growing US market for Colombian heroin. George Festa, DEA special agent in charge of New England told Reuters "The purity of the product is what really concerns us. We've made street buys with purity of 95%, even 97%."

That level of purity simply dwarfs the potency of heroin available in the past. This trend has had two major effects. The first is that heroin can now be snorted or smoked, rather than injected, which tends to cut down on the sharing of syringes, and thus the spread of AIDS. The other side, however, is that the ability to use heroin without injecting it could lure new users who would not have tried the drug otherwise. Reuters reports that bags of heroin are available on the streets of Boston for as little as $4. The skyrocketing purity, the low price, and the fact that large quantities of Colombian heroin are making it all the way up to New England is a striking indication of just how ineffective the strategies of interdiction and enforcement have been in controlling the black market.

George Kenney, a long-time harm-reduction advocate now working with Community of Color Outreach in Roxbury Massachusetts, told The Week Online, "There's certainly no shortage of heroin on the streets up here, and they're right, it is cheap. The state health department has finally started a pilot needle exchange program, and it seems to be going well, but its not enough to address the problem. There are so many sea ports up here, its just impossible to keep the stuff out. We need to get less punitive, and start spending more time thinking about how to reach people where they are, instead of threatening them and chasing them back into the shadows, so that we can help them to move into recovery, or at least help them to stabilize their lives so that they can prepare to make the decision to get clean."

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Issue #24, 1/9/98 A Look Ahead at 1998 | War on Patients to Escalate: Federal Government Announces Plan to Raid Cannabis Buyers' Clubs | DRCNet Exclusive!! British Euro-MP's Ordered by Blair to Vote Against Commission Recommendations for EU Drug Policy | Ann Landers, Anthony Lewis Trash Drug War: DRCNet subscribers are urged to respond! | Candle Correction | Giuliani Pledges a "Drug Free New York" | Heroin in New England -- Cheaper, Purer Than Ever | Federal Anti-Drug Ad Campaign to Hit Airwaves | America "Works With" Her International Partner | US Counternarcotics Base to Replace Air Force Base When Panama Canal is Turned Over | Signature Drive Underway for Industrial Hemp Ballot Initiative in California | UK: Home Secretary's Son Found Dealing Cannabis, Legaliation Debate Rages | Australian Cops: "Policign is not the Answer" | "Smoke a Joint, Lose a Limb?:" Pending Mississippi Bill Threatens Dismemberment For Convicted Drug Violators | Student Suspension Overturned | Jury Nullification Ballot Initiative in California | Job Opportunity at DPF | Editorial: A "Drug Free New York?" C'mon Rudy
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