Interviews

15: Snowfall and Strengthening

In the early 1980s, a doctor called John Marks was posted to Merseyside, and began to massively expand a program that prescribed heroin to addicts. The results were startling – until they were abruptly shut down. But his program then inspired the Swiss government to pick it up – where it has become an official policy, approved in a landslide in two separate referenda. This chapter is the story of what happened, why it worked, and what we can all learn from it.

This is John Marks recalling what his colleagues told him when he arrived:

This is John recalling what the people on the existing heroin program were like:

This is John explaining he didn’t really have any interest in them:

This is John recalling one of them, Sydney:

This is Alan Parry, who worked in John’s clinic, recalling what the heroin addicts looked like prior to the prescription program:

This is Alan Parry explaining why drugs are so much deadlier when they are banned:

This is John Marks talking about the same realization:

This is Russell Newcombe, who also worked in the clinic, describing the same effect:

This is John Marks explaining how this slowly dawned on him:

This is John Marks explaining the ‘pyramid effect’ in heroin:

This is John Marks recalling the words of one of the parents of a patient of his:

This is John Marks recalling what he was told by a senior official about pressure on the British government from the Americans:

This is Russell Newcombe recalling what happened to the patients when the program was shut down:

This is John Marks recalling what happened to him:

This is John Marks responding to my horror at what happened to him:

This is Ruth Dreifus, the first female President of Switzerland, who piloted the legalization of heroin for addicts into law. Her she explains the failed experiment of ‘needle park’:

Here she joked about her own smoking:

Here she talks about prostitution:

This is Dr Rita Manghi, who works in the heroin prescribing clinic in Geneva, explaining that most addicts on the program decide to reduce their dose over time:

This is Ruth Dreifus, remembering the words of a letter that was handed to her:

This is Ruth explaining how she felt about the letter:

This is Ruth explaining why she lives so near to a heroin clinic now:

This is Ruth saying what she would say to US and UK political leaders:

This is Ruth recalling what the US drugs tsar said to the Netherlands about its coffee shops:

This is Ruth explaining when she stood up to the US drugs tsar:

This is Ruth explaining how doubts are rising about the drug war everywhere:

Ruth explains why the heroin-prescribing clinics are at the center of Swiss cities:

Dr Hal Vorse treats addicts in Oklahoma. Here he explains an aspect of the iron law of prohibition:

Dr Rita Manghi explains an aspect of drug policy history:

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