Heroin Epidemic Part 1: Courtesy of the US Government

NB: This is the first of three Editors Blogs regarding Heroin and our communities.


In the 1960’s the US Government under President Nixon instituted the War on Drugs. In particular it was a war on marijuana. Heroin and cocaine was limited, an inner city problem involving mostly the poor minority population. Methamphetamines were unheard of as such it wasn’t considered significant. Marijuana on the other hand had taken hold with the white middle class population.

The War on Drugs was actually a War on Marijuana. The Federal government classified Marijuana as a Class 1 narcotic drug with no medical applications. This was the same exact classification as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Getting arrested for possession of marijuana brought on the same penalties as these other hard core drugs.

As we know heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine are processed powders, easily diluted with other substances to stretch the amount available for sale. They are either injected, snorted into the nasal passages, or smoked. Marijuana on the other hand is a plant whose flowers are smoked, cooked into sweets such as brownies or brewed into a tea. I’m reminded of the old Sesame Street ditty, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same”.

The War on Drugs took a nasty turn when the US Government began eradicating the marijuana farms in Central America using various chemicals sprayed via airplane. Some of these caused death to anyone who used the tainted products. More important, this opened up Central America to convert from marijuana production to production, under the control of organized crime, of the more harmful yet profitable drugs under Class 1 classification.

Here’s the reason this happened. Marijuana can’t be diluted so it is sold through a series of levels. For instance the farmer would get about $50 for a pound of marijuana sold to the crime bosses. They then sell it to regional wholesalers for $500/Lb. Who then sell it to regional distributors for $1000/lb., who distribute it to local resellers for $2000/lb., who then sell it to street level dealers for around $600/quarter lb., who sell it to users for around $200/ounce!

Heroin is manufactured by the criminal enterprises then sold as pure heroin for $100/gram bringing in around $45,000/lb., the wholesalers then “cut” the heroin with a variety of substances. They also sell it for $100/gram but now due to diluting the product they have twice as much bringing in around $90,000. They sell the two pounds of diluted product to regional distributors, who cut it again doubling the amount available for sale bringing in $180,000 for the now 4lbs. of product. They then sell it to local resellers who cut it once again making it 8lbs. The resellers are now bringing in $360,000 for their eight pounds of diluted product.

Another positive for the crime bosses is the fact that 5 pounds of heroin takes up the same physical space as 1 pound of marijuana! In numbers that is $500 for the pot vs. $225,000 for heroin to the crime bosses.

As the numbers show it is now too late to get that genie back in the bottle by legalizing marijuana. The profit potential for distributing heroin is just too great to ever think that Central American governments and criminal enterprises will ever go back to producing marijuana.

Which brings up the only positive of this crazy War on Marijuana. Almost all the marijuana used in the USA is now cultivated in the USA. Bringing those jobs back to the USA.

Bob DeMaura

NHInsider Owner/Operator