Editorial: Same old drug policy? Good grief | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Same old drug policy? Good grief

State police in Greensburg seized 3 pounds, 6 ounces of straight fentanyl Monday from two New York men during a traffic stop along the turnpike in Mt. Pleasant Township on Monday, July 8, 2019.

Charlie Brown is a cookie-cutter drug czar.

The round-headed kid with earnest intentions and a fervent desire to just do the right thing would want to stop dangerous drugs from flooding the streets. He would want to save people from the downward spiral of addiction. He would do everything he was supposed to do.

And none of it would work.

He would fight cocaine and it would turn into crack, chewing up all his hard work like a kite-eating tree. He would run headlong at the criminal side of the problem, only to have progress snatched away like a football at the last minute, leaving him dazed on his back.

He could plan the perfect program, a pageant orchestrated to hit every mark and check every box, but factions arguing about what was most important would leave it in chaos.

But just like our approach to drug issues — which often seems to ignore the advice of people who deal with addiction in favor of people who deal with politics — he wouldn’t give up.

In fact, he would try it all again. Exactly the same way. Surely the tree won’t eat the kite again. Lucy won’t pull the football away this time. Fentanyl will be easier to stop than heroin was, or meth, or crack, or powder cocaine.

Except it won’t. And that’s why Charlie Brown is the poster child for drug policy.

For decades, we have blithely treated public policy on drugs exactly the way we advise addicts not to address their problems. Instead of creating new patterns and trying new solutions, we hurl ourselves headlong into exactly what didn’t work last time, confident that this time we can make it work.

But this time it seems more important than ever to find a new way. Fentanyl is more than just the new kid on the block. It is a terrorist, a suicide bomber. Fentanyl is cheap and deadly and finds its way into other drugs. It cannot be waited out. It isn’t a phase that will pass.

And it is growing. The state police seized the largest cache of fentanyl in Western Pennsylvania history just last week.

It was 3 pounds, 6 ounces. There are thousands of doses in each ounce. An overdose is easy. Even accidental, incidental exposure can kill.

We need more than what we’ve tried over and over, because that doesn’t stand a chance. And if that’s all we keep throwing at fentanyl? Good grief.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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