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I SPENT 26 years as a State Police officer fighting the drug war, 14 of those years as an undercover officer working every kind of case, including billion-dollar heroin trafficking conspiracies. I have seen the ravages of both drug use and current drug policy.

The consequences of addiction in an illegal marketplace are far greater than the addiction alone. Users don’t know how much of their purchase is heroin or whether it has been cut with an agent such as Fentanyl, a drug many times stronger than heroin.

Over the past year, the Globe has published dozens of similar articles discussing the appalling increase in heroin overdose deaths. Yet there hasn’t been a significant discussion of solutions to this problem.

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If we want to stop overdose deaths, we must legalize and regulate drugs. Once this happens, drug users will know what they are consuming and overdose deaths will plummet. Drug users are our children, our parents, and our neighbors. Providing compassionate treatment during their addiction, rather than incarceration, will keep them alive long enough for a chance at sobriety.

Jack A. Cole

Medford

The writer is co-founder and board chair of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.