Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jun 2000
Date: 06/12/2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Author: Robert Heimer

To the Editor:

Your June 5 editorial "Drug Laws That Misfired" states that the
draconian drug laws enacted in New York in the 1970's failed to cut
drug trafficking or drug addiction while filling state prisons with
nonviolent offenders. It should be added to this list that these laws
failed to make illegal drugs harder to obtain.

In fact, it appears that the opposite has occurred. According to the
Drug Enforcement Administration, the cost of heroin on the streets of
New York City decreased between 1988 and 1995. In 1988, $100 could buy
107 milligrams of pure heroin; by 1995, $100 could buy 318 milligrams.

It should be clear from these data that spending huge sums to pursue
policies of supply reduction and incarceration have done nothing to
keep heroin from being readily available and, it seems, cheap.

New Haven, June 6, 2000

The writer is an associate professor, department of epidemiology and
public health, Yale School of Medicine.