[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 12, 1972

Comments on "Heroin Maintenance"

JAMA. 1972;220(11):1493. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200110071017

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Many concerned citizens have urged that clinics for legal distribution of heroin be established to deal with the drugcrime problem in our major cities. In New York, for example, at least 250,000 heroin addicts support their habits by thefts and drug pushing. People are being robbed on the streets and in their homes; businesses are burdened with heavy losses which ultimately are reflected in higher living costs; neighborhoods are deteriorating, and buildings are abandoned; the stable middle class is leaving for the suburbs, and hundreds of millions of dollars per year are being diverted from legitimate business to the underworld.

Obviously, something must be done. Since there is no immediate prospect of curing these 250,000 addicts, why not give heroin to addicts under medical supervision rather than force them into criminal activity, as we are now doing? This argument seems convincing. What is the fallacy?

The weak point in the