The poster child for urban decay (the phenomenon resulting when businesses abandon a city en masse), in the past decade, Detroit has served as a handy punchline for elitist snobs interested in “ruin porn” and kneejerk reactionaries looking for an example of the havoc “Democrats” and “the unions” wreak upon the public. But neither Democrats nor unions are responsible for this horrifying and sobering fact. Detroit has more opioid overdose deaths than murders.
Death in Detroit
In the Trump era, Detroit usually follows Chicago and Baltimore when law-and-order types search for an example of how violent criminals have seized control of streets and terrorized the public, thus necessitating some expansion of police powers to “liberate our communities.”
These are all simple ways of looking at a city from afar—which goes towards understanding why they are all wrong. But new data shows that Detroit is absolutely an example of how the country’s opiate crisis is spiraling out of control—and becoming more deadly than every career criminal combined.
In Detroit in 2017, 267 people died as a result of homicide—and 383 people died as a result of an opiate overdose, according to WXYZ.
Those numbers are sobering and staggering. They surprise even hardened DEA agents like Timothy Plancon, the agent-in-charge in Detroit. They also demonstrate beyond a doubt what we already knew: America is awash in opiates, overdoses are out of control, and pose a far greater threat than the “cartels” or “violent criminals” Attorney General Jeff Sessions is prone to droning on about.
The Opioid Crisis
Unfortunately, since Detroit has more opioid overdose deaths than murders, the city is demonstrating exactly how not to approach the opiate-fueled overdose crisis. Overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in America. More than 60,000 people a year are killed by drug overdoses, according to the CDC.
States like Kentucky and West Virginia, “knowingly flooded” by pharmaceutical companies with vast amounts of prescription pills, have astoundingly high death rates that are, so far, not shared by states like California, Oregon, and Colorado.
According to some studies, marijuana legalization may have something to do with this discrepancy. The most common application of opiates is for pain, and cannabis is proven to have efficacy in treating pain.
Final Hit: Detroit Has More Opioid Overdose Deaths Than Murders
Legal marijuana appears to be a lock for Michigan. Polling for a ballot measure voters will almost surely see on the ballot in the fall is positive. But in the meantime, authorities have been busy shutting down businesses in Detroit that offer medical marijuana, saying that they violate state law.
Even worse, the new federal prosecutor in Detroit appears bent on treating people who provide opiates that contribute to a fatal overdose “like murderers.”
“That’s a murder,” U.S. attorney Matthew Schneider told WXYZ. “That is a drug delivery causing death. And that’s how we’re going to prosecute those cases.”
As more data shows, imprisoning or sentencing “drug dealers” to death is about the worst approach imaginable. “Drug-induced homicide” laws have been on the books since the 1980s, and have done nothing to stop or even slow the opiate crisis. But they are quite good at filling prisons and death rows, as more and more bodies dead from overdoses pile up in morgues.