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Horowitz: Biden’s border, criminal justice, health care, and COVID policies responsible for drug poisoning epidemic

Op-ed
Stas_V/Getty Images

What are the consequences of 235,000 people teeming over our border per month?

Over 107,000 Americans died from drug poisoning, often from counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, funded by the Chinese government and concocted by the Mexican drug cartels. Why is there no clamor to fight the cartels with the same resoluteness with which we are fighting a proxy war halfway around the world?

Earlier this month, the CDC announced that an estimated 107,622 Americans died in 2021 from drug poisoning, up 15% from 2020 and more than double the number from just seven years before. Biden called it “unacceptable,” but it is his policies and those of his ilk responsible for this unnatural degree of a drug crisis, because organized crime can only persist with political protection on both sides of the border. His policies have juiced up the supply as well as the demand for these drugs in every way imaginable.

In general, the fentanyl overdose crisis began with the 2014 Central American border crisis, after 5-7 years of reduced border flow during the Great Recession. That is when MS-13 was resuscitated by a massive flow of Central American teen drug runners into the country. But after settling down in 2018-2019, the drug crisis took off again in 2020, right around March when the lockdowns began.

It’s hard to tell how much of this is due to the unprecedented flow of drugs across the border and how much of it is from depressing a generation of youngsters with COVID fear porn, social isolation, and tyranny, but they likely exacerbated each other, on both the supply and demand sides of the drug problem.

Our entire drug policy is based on throwing billions of dollars at these dubious NGOs to “treat” addiction while our government allows the supply of drugs to flow uncontrolled. Moreover, our government is obsessively monitoring prescriptions and making it hard for doctors to prescribe painkillers while making it easy for drug cartels to operate and drug runners in the U.S. to get off without prison time. To top it off, they induced a crisis of depression, suicide, and chronic pain from lack of proper treatment for COVID and vaccine injury. It’s a perfect storm beyond belief.

One could not possibly conceive a more perverse, unjust, and counterintuitive policy than what government is doing with drug traffickers and pain patients. The federal and blue-state governments are inviting in criminal alien drug traffickers, protecting them with sanctuary cities, releasing hardened traffickers of illicit drugs from prison, and then attacking doctors and pain patients who prescribe and consume legitimate pain medication. They are driving more people into the very illicit market that they have blessed with the confluence of open borders and weak- on-crime policies.

Add into the mix the fact that they locked down people for over a year, made an entire generation of youngsters suicidal and depressed, and damaged society with a dangerous shot that causes pain and illness but dissuaded doctors from diagnosing and treating those ailments. Now you have created a market for the cartels to serve people, not just with needles and powders, which most non-traditional drug addicts will avoid, but with pills disguised as prescription drugs that are in fact poison.

Our government has spent over $300 billion in drug control programs over the past decade, dramatically increasing in the past four years, but we have nothing to show for it except hundreds of thousands of dead. You can’t destroy the mental and physical health of an entire generation, block legal prescriptions, invite the cartels to do business, and basically decriminalize drug trafficking, then expect some nanny-state drug addiction program to ameliorate that beast.

Moreover, our government has targeted the wrong issue. It’s not prescription drugs that are fueling the drug crisis. As everyone knows, I’m no fan of Big Pharma, and I believe we could have dealt with chronic pain and inflammation in a more holistic way, but now that we have a very unhealthy population, the worst thing you can do is cut off pain meds but flood the streets with illicit drugs.

The entirety of the increases in deaths the past decade has come from illicit drugs. According to the CDC’s new release, overdoses involving fentanyl surpassed 71,000, up 23% from the year before. There also was a 23% increase in cocaine deaths and a 34% increase in deaths involving meth and other psychostimulants. Meanwhile, our medical surveillance and criminal justice systems now treat drug dealers like doctors and doctors like drug dealers.

As you can see, according to the CDC’s chart, deaths from non-synthetic opioids, mainly prescription, are flat and have been for many years.

What has changed is synthetic opioids like fentanyl and the lacing of them into other illicit drugs, including non-opioids like methamphetamine. Also, they are placing fentanyl into counterfeit prescription drugs that people often seek when they can’t get a prescription for oxycodone. According to CBP, in fiscal year 2019, roughly 2,800 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the border. The following year, that figure nearly doubled to 4,800 pounds of fentanyl seized. By FY 2021, when Biden took office, fentanyl seizures skyrocketed to about 11,200 pounds!

Contrast the skyrocketing fentanyl border seizures, and the accompanying commensurate spike in fentanyl deaths, to the plummeting of prescription opioids. Opioid dispensing rates have plummeted since 2013, right before the drug crisis took off. Prescription rates are now at 43.3 per 100 people, roughly half of the peak in 2012. So, there is a perfectly inverse relationship between opioid prescriptions and drug overdoses.

You can see the green line of prescription opioid deaths remains flat, as synthetic opioid deaths, represented in the brown line, and methamphetamine deaths (gray line) surge:

This doesn’t mean that clamping down on prescriptions is necessarily the cause of the overdoses, but it certainly demonstrates that it is not the solution. And having open borders and weak-on-crime laws domestically created a supply-side tsunami that perfectly met a demand, as so many people couldn’t get prescriptions.

The point is that this ain’t your grandfather’s drug problem. This is chemical warfare launched on us by China and the Mexican cartels and can ensnare anyone’s children. It’s not like the marijuana of past generations. One mistake by anyone can result in instant death, especially because of the counterfeit pills.

What the past few years have taught us is that our people are under biological and chemical attack in multiple ways by enemies abroad and enemies within our country.
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