Youth Violence Subcommittee Holds Field Hearing on Heroin Upsurge 11/19/99

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

Ted Bridges, Drug Policy Foundation, [email protected]

This Monday (11/15), the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Youth Violence traveled to the New Castle County police headquarters in New Castle, Delaware to hold a hearing on resurgence of heroin use. Only two senators on the subcommittee were present at the hearing -- Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PE), although Specter departed during the first panel of witnesses leaving Biden to chair the hearing.

In testimony, a New Castle police officer and a paramedic offered anecdotal evidence as to the increasing prevalence of heroin arrests and overdoses in the Delaware area. William R. Nelson, Acting Special agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, testified that the Pennsylvania/Delaware region has been flooded with inexpensive and highly pure South American heroin, which is marketed with such street names as "TURBO," READY TO DIE," and "LANDROVER."

Senators Biden and Specter stressed that a greater share of the government's drug control budget must be devoted to demand reduction. "It is long-past due that we devote at least 50% of the resources to the demand side," said Specter.

The Senators' ideas for cutting back demand include reauthorizing and strengthening the drug court program -- a network of state and local special courts that offer non-violent drug offenders an alternative to prison if they participate in a program of coerced abstinence through a combination of treatment, drug testing, punitive sanctions, and case management. To this end, both senators endorsed S.1808, a pending Specter-sponsored bill entitled, "The Drug Court Reauthorization and Improvement Act of 1999."

Biden also called upon Congress to fulfill a commitment it made in 1992 under the Pharmacotherapy Development Act to provide $1 billion over ten years to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Medication Development Program, which researches new drugs that can be used to treat opioid addiction. Funds were authorized for the program by Congress in 1993 and 1995 but were never appropriated.

Witness Dr. Alan Leshner who heads the Medication Development Program was critical of the government's level of support. "In spite of all the rhetoric, we really don't have enough funding for treatment."

Specter, while supportive of the drug court approach, said he was not convinced of the power of medications to treat addiction. He quizzed Dr. Leshner about the Human Genome Project and informed the doctor that he would find better results curing drug addiction from a genetic angle. Specter's lesson in human physiology had no merit, however, according to another researcher from the Medical Development Division of NIDA who asked to remain anonymous. "[The Human Genome Project] is a long way off. Even when it's complete, what can you do for addiction with that information? You would still have to chemically alter the genome for there to be any effect."

Biden outlined other proposals for curbing heroin use in a report entitled, "HEROIN: Increased Use, Deadly Consequences." In the report, Biden endorses the bill S.324, the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 1999, which is specifically targeted at increasing the availability of an anti-heroin addiction drug known as Buprenorphine. Biden also recommends incentives for private companies to develop opioid addiction medications. He suggests that pharmaceutical companies be allowed to extend their patents on their anti-addiction medications, and that the Food and Drug Administration's approval process be expedited.

By the end, the event began to take on the flavor of a town hall meeting more than a hearing. At one point, Biden asked panel members, "Why the heck won't these kids listen to me?" In response, spirited audience members shouted, "They're right here! Why don't you ask them yourself?" Two recovering heroin addicts from a local methadone clinic were ushered up to the witness table. Said one gaunt-faced youth to Biden: "The reason someone would listen to us and not to you is because we've been there. Yours is just textbook knowledge."

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #116, 11/19/99 Hypocrisy II: More Special Treatment for Politicians' Families | Youth Violence Subcommittee Holds Field Hearing on Heroin Upsurge | Reformers Express Concern to Bolivian Government Over Illegal Arrest of Leonilda Zurita | In Memoriam: Gil Puder | New Mexico: Governor Holds Forum on Legalization, Top Cop Resigns, Republican Chairman Acknowledges Authoring Private Pro-Decriminalization Paper in 1997 | "Judge Judy" on Drug Users and Their Families: "Let 'Em Die" | Student Conference Report | DEA Lifts Hemp Seed Embargo | McWilliams and McCormick to Plead Guilty | Drug Education: New Publication from The Lindesmith Center | Needle Exchange Forum: Newark, New Jersey 20-Nov | New Report on Injection-Related AIDS Finds Prevention Neglected in Large States and Major Cities | Editorial: Guest Editorial: US Senate Should Pass Forfeiture Reform Bill
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]