Though many Americans support medical marijuana initiatives, the vast majority opposes the legalization of hard drugs such as heroin (Wren, 2000, P. 1), and with good reason. Heroin is a powerful narcotic derived from the poppy. The drug interferes with the brain's ability to perceive pain, and it is very addictive. Heroin is a fast-acting drug that quickly gives the user a "high," sometimes in a matter of seconds (if injected). Even a small amount can lead to an overdose and death (Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 2000).
The drug reached the height of its popularity in the U.S. during the early 1970s, then experienced a dramatic decline after it came to be viewed as a hardcore drug for junkies. The lack of purity (one to ten percent) meant that the drug could only be taken via hypodermic needle, a significant bar to use by many people. In the 1980s, fear of contracting AIDS became a further disincentive for heroin use (Powell, 2000).
That began to change in the late 1990s as heroin became more pure. Recent seizures by law enforcement indicate that heroin has reached purity levels as high as 98 percent. Such purity allows users to snort, smoke or ingest the drug, making the drug much more popular. Heroin comes in powder form, so a little goes a long way, and that make