Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jun 2002
Source: Oak Ridger (TN)
Copyright: 2002 The Oak Ridger
Author: Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.


To The Oak Ridger:

According to a June 6 article, an Anderson County jail inmate was recently 
hospitalized after overdosing on drugs. The fact that the drug war cannot 
keep drugs out of jails, much less schools, is indicative of its inherent 
failure. The entrenched interests riding the drug war gravy train claim 
they are fighting crime.

If only that were true. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while 
demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug 
trafficking. ...

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each 
other down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go blind drinking 
unregulated bathtub gin.

While U.S. politicians ignore the historical precedent, European countries 
are embracing harm reduction. Harm reduction is a public health alternative 
based on the principle that both drug use and drug prohibition have the 
potential to cause harm.

Examples of harm reduction include needle exchange programs to stop the 
spread of HIV, marijuana regulation aimed at separating the hard and soft 
drug markets, and treatment alternatives that do not require incarceration 
as a prerequisite.

Unfortunately, fear of appearing soft on crime compels many U.S. 
politicians to support a failed drug war that ultimately subsidizes 
organized crime.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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