Pubdate: Wed, 19 Sep 2001
Source: Guardian Weekly, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Publications 2001
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Robert Sharpe, The Lindesmith Centre-Drug Policy Foundation, 
Washington DC


David Broder was right on target (A highly debatable war on drugs,
August 30).  A cost-benefit analysis of the United States drug war is
long overdue. Instead of wasting billions of dollars incarcerating
non-violent drug offenders while waging a futile supply-side war
abroad, the US should be funding cost-effective treatment.

A Bush proposal to expand the Clinton administration's $ 1.3bn Plan
Colombia into a broader Andean initiative will not negate the laws of
supply and demand that drive illegal drug production.  Creating a
global welfare state in which every developing country is paid not to
grow illicit crops is an expensive proposition.

The armed factions tearing Colombia apart are financially dependent on
profits generated by drug prohibition.  While US politicians continue
to use the drug war's collateral damage to justify its intensification
at home and abroad, European countries are embracing harm reduction, a
public health alternative based on the principle that both drug use
and drug enforcement can cause harm.

Ironically, the fear of appearing "soft on crime" compels many
politicians to support a punitive drug policy that fuels organised
crime and violence, while failing miserably at preventing use.

Robert Sharpe,
The Lindesmith Centre-Drug Policy Foundation,
Washington DC
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