Would free heroin help the war on drugs?

Posted at 11:26 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 09:47:17-04

A group of Niagara University students and professors are making the trip to the Netherlands, to study the criminal justice system in that country-specifically as it relates to drugs and drug use.

"We have to address this issue because everyday it's opioid, opioid, opioid," said Lilton Kelley, a student in the class.

Kelley is a retired Buffalo Police Detective, who worked undercover with the narcotics unit for more than 20 years. He's part of the class, and hoping to study what that country does differently.

The Netherlands have historically low statistics when it comes to overdose deaths, those hooked on drugs, and HIV infection rates amongst drug users.

Professor Paul Schupp is leading the group. He says there's a lot we can learn.

"They may regulate some drugs like marijuana, and focus law enforcement efforts on opioids and hard drugs," he said.

According to Radio Netherlands Worldwide, there are 17 clinics in that country where addicts are given free, government issued heroin. They must prove they've hit rock bottom and have explored other treatment and counseling options.

It costs about 19,000 per client, per year, but officials say costs are cut on things like hospital visits and legal fees.

Drugs aren't the only thing this class is focusing on, they're looking at the criminal justice system as a whole to see where we could improve.

They'll be back in 12 days.