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Voluntary Drug Abuse Has Consequences

I caught some flack for this column. Let me be clear, I grieve for those who suffer from drug abuse and their families. The families should reach out and do all they can to help those unfortunately cdrugabuseaught up in the drug trade. I do what I can to help. But if liberty means anything, it means that there are consequences for our voluntary actions. At some point, it is no longer the public’s problem.

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In honor of the late great Glenn Frey: “Just remember this my girl, when you look up in the sky, you can see the stars and still not see the light, that’s right.” Already Gone, Eagles. #6 on my All Time List.

What great news! Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has called for every law enforcement officer in the country to be equipped with a heroin overdose antidote. This is wonderful news, well, at least for the drug makers who make the antidote.

Various sources indicate there are about 900,000 law enforcement officers in this country. The cost of the heroin antidote varies, from $41 for the nasal spray (easier to administer, but takes longer to work) to $53 for the injectable form (works quickly, but harder to administer). Average that out to $47. Assume that each cop carries two antidotes, for a total cost of $94 per officer. At 900,000 officers, we have an initial cost of $84.6 million. Cheap, right?

There will be training involved, as first the officer has to recognize the heroin overdose and then second, the officer has to be competent to administer the antidote. Let’s say that requires 4 hours of training. Per reliable Google sources, the average cost (versus actual pay) for officers in this country is about $40 per hour. So that’s another $160 per officer for training. That’s another $144 million, for a total of $228.6 million for Hillary’s save a heroin addict program.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are 8,000 heroin overdoses per year. Let’s presume that officers could reach half of those people in time to save them, so that’s 4,000 lives saved. That’s $57,150 per individual saved. Seems a little high, but how much is one life worth, Kelly? I know I’m sounding kinda cold hearted here, but last I checked, heroin is a drug of choice. You have to smoke it, inject it or inhale it. Same for meth and its various forms. Cocaine and its various forms.

So then I looked at our government’s cancer research spending. Last year, the National Cancer Institute received $5.21 billion in tax dollars. According to government data, 1,658,370 Americans will get cancer this year. About 600,000 will die. Best as I can tell, cancer is not something that you shoot into your veins, snort up your nose or inhale into your lungs (cigarettes aside), yet government spending on cancer research is $3,140 per patient.

Yet Hillary is offering to spend 18x per capita what we spend on cancer research to potentially save 4,000 heroin addicts. Now I’m really turning into a cold-hearted guy, but give me a break. I’m a liberty guy. You want to shoot poison into your veins? Go ahead, but don’t expect me to pay for your recovery.

Cancer on the other hand? All of us could succumb to cancer. All of us understand the suffering and medical costs associated with the fight against it. Chances are we have all seen it, if not in our family, at least our extended family.

Why am I picking on Hillary? Well, she said it. But it could just as easily have been another candidate. Both parties share $50 million in contributions each election cycle from drug makers like Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the antidote for heroin. And that is, I submit, the reason for the pledge from Hillary. Why else would she suggest, in a national debate, that a few thousand heroin overdoses deserve this kind of treatment?

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see and visit his website at www.kellyrburke.com to view prior columns.

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