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Legalize Heroin, Irish Health Official Argues

Update Date: Feb 15, 2013 12:58 PM EST

Last year, voters in Washington and Colorado paved the way for the legalization of marijuana. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that he wants to legalize hemp, a plant in the same family as marijuana. In fact, one recent poll found that the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, 51 to 44 percent. In the United Kingdom, however, health officials believe that legalization should step it up a notch: one drug worker stated that class A drugs, like heroin, should be legalized and made available with a prescription.

In Northern Ireland, Michael Foley is the head of Belfast Trust's Drug Outreach Team. According to the BBC, Foley has two experiences working with people who are addicted to drugs. The team, made up of only five people, works with 100 people in the urban area who are addicted to Class A drugs, like heroin and cocaine. They try to minimize the damage that addicts can do to themselves, like helping them use clean needles, control their habit and supply them with drugs like Methadone, which is used as a substitution for heroin.

In the United Kingdom, like in the United States, it is a crime to be caught in possession of drugs. However, Mr. Foley said that prosecuting drug addicts was unproductive. Keeping these drugs illegal, he says, simply push people to the underground economy, which may lead to people's deaths.

In addition, one man who is addicted to heroin said to BBC that the criminality of drugs did not make them hard to obtain. One man, called John, said that it was as easy to buy heroin in Belfast as it was to have a cup of tea in a café. He said that he could easily make a call and the drug would be delivered to his house in 15 minutes.

However, despite Mr. Foley's recommendation, it seems unlikely that politicians will follow suit. British Prime Minister David Cameron ruled against the idea of a commission that would consider the decriminalization of certain drugs, an act that was suggested by a group of MPs. This action was carried out just last December.

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