Last week, I wrote that unless we use Singapore’s solution to hang drug pushers, we will never defeat the opioid epidemic in North America. This week, a strong response from readers.
A police officer in a major Canadian city writes, “Thank you for the temerity to write this column. I wonder why we have a law that says a drug is illegal, yet the law supervises injection sites to consume illegal drugs!” He adds, “Unfortunately our lawmakers do not have the gonads to protect citizens against flagrant abuses. Thanks for your valued columns.”
The Doctor Game
A reader of the Victoria Colonist says, “I too have been in Singapore. I recently talked with a medical student who was horrified I supported hanging drug dealers. He wanted life imprisonment, but why pay for their room and board? Unfortunately, our society uses band-aid solutions.”
P.M., “I hate drug dealers who cause death. You are bang on and those of us who work in education will send along our vote. It’s refreshing to hear someone telling it the way it is. Our taxes should not be wasted on these people.”
From Kelowna B.C., “We are well on the way to a medical tsunami. These injection sites are nothing more than drug-facilitation centres.”
J and T echoed what many readers responded, “Traffickers should be given the death sentence as they are mass killers.”
But not all readers sent me roses. C.K. writes,” I usually agree with your no-nonsense view. But what about the role played by doctors and pharmaceutical companies in opioid addiction? Should we put these people to death as well?”
Other critics said, “Why don’t we stop helping people with heart disease, diabetes and lung cancer? After all, they usually cause their own destruction.”
A.D. drove the knife in deeper when he replied, “Your strong opinions do not necessarily mean that you are morally superior to others who differ from you. Please stop trying to force others to follow your moral code and practice a little tolerance.”
But over 90 percent of readers sent their approval and were grateful that I would be their voice. I hope I can continue to do so. But I respect those who disagreed. I thanked many for sending along their criticism.
I think the Ministers of Health and Justice could learn a lot from reading these e-mails. For instance, from Nanaimo, B.C. “I strongly object to my money being spent on free needles and free injection sites for addicts. Why should we support them? Don’t they understand that drugs kill? The politicians and do-gooders are building themselves lucrative empires. Let’s arrest any drug dealer and inject them with Fentanyl! The money saved could be spent on low-cost housing for the homeless.”
One reader sent along this cutting remark, “Bravo for speaking out about supervision programs. There’s a saying that organized crime of sufficient size is indistinguishable from government!”
Others worried that today there is no such thing as personal responsibility. And that the remark of Singapore’s authorities that North Americans had become “irresponsibly permissive” was putting it mildly.
Many readers also responded to my complaint of inadequate medical assistance to the dying (MAID).
C.A. writes, “Society’s laws and mores need to change, and quickly. Not only will we need to accept a person’s desire to end life. We will also have to accept it for more reasons than just terminal illness. The elderly, the frail, the dependent will have to be given the right to change their condition. Many of these people would choose to leave this planet if allowed to do so. I am devastated to think of the burden this society is placing on our grandchildren. They will sink with debt unless things change.”
Some readers, of course, believe accepting MAID in any form is embarking on the slippery slope to hell.
I wish to thank all those who took the time to contact me. You provided several hours of thoughtful reading.
— W. Gifford Jones, MD