The Benefits of AIDS and Hepatitis
Last week Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed a bill that would have allowed the sale of needles and syringes without a prescription, a measure aimed at discouraging needle sharing by heroin users, thereby reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis. Unlike government-funded needle exchange programs, to which many taxpayers understandably object because they don't want to subsidize other people's drug habits, this simple reform merely eliminates a legal obstacle to sanitary injection practices. Yet Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy (who is running to replace him) said they feared the change would encourage heroin use. Even if they were right (the research suggests otherwise), their prohibitionist logic is rather appalling: Allowing easier access to injection equipment makes heroin use safer, and that's a bad thing, because the specter of AIDS and hepatitis deters people who might otherwise become addicts.