I am old enough to remember the heroin problem, not here in Belleville, but the big cities in the middle of the last century. As we moved forward past Vietnam, we seemed more concerned about marijuana and cocaine, both formerly legal drugs. We wasted trillions of dollars and thousands of lives and never won. We put small time dealers in prison for long terms but the problems did not go away. We forgot that prohibition does not work if people choose not to obey. We blamed Hispanics, but without the demand, their would be no market. In the meantime, the Hispanics were victimized by large American companies who swindled them on coffee, and other foods because we like having strawberries in mid winter.
Now heroin is back like the plague. Its younger users are dying in high school. Teenagers have always tried to push the envelope and take unnecessary chances on a lot of things. Here again, our government has failed. When we pursued Bin Laden into Afghanistan we had a prime opportunity to stop the heroin trade cold. It is Afghanistan’s largest cash crop. We could have burned the poppy field or bombed them into dust. But we chose not to alienate the natives. The cost has been the loss of many of our your people. We had the wrong priorities and our children will pay with their lives. We did not save Afghanistan either.
Joseph M. Reichert, Belleville