Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2000
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2000 The Providence Journal Company
Contact:  75 Fountain St., Providence RI 02902
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: The writer is a program officer at the Lindesmith Center Drug
Policy Foundation.


When are policymakers going to acknowledge the dangerous levels of 
institutional corruption engendered by the drug war? The news of the 
Providence police officer charged with selling cocaine to an undercover 
detective is just the latest example. This insidious corruption stretches 
from coast to coast and reaches the highest levels.

The former commander of U.S. anti-drug operations in Colombia was found 
guilty of laundering the profits of his wife's heroin-smuggling operation. 
Entire countries in Latin America have been destabilized because of the 
corrupting influence of organized-crime groups that profit from the illegal 
drug trade. These profits would not be possible if not for drug prohibition.

Like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the drug war is causing tremendous 
societal harm, with little to show for it. Drug laws fuel organized crime 
and corruption, which is then used to justify increased drug-war spending. 
It's time to end this madness and start treating substance abuse like the 
public health problem that it is.

ROBERT SHARPE Washington , D.C.
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