Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jan 2002
Source: Northwest Florida Daily News (FL)
Copyright: 2002 Northwest Florida Daily News
Author: Robert Sharpe


Your Jan. 16 editorial ("Folly in Colombia") was right
on target. Plan Colombia has the potential to spread both civil war
and coca production throughout South America. U.S. tax dollars would
be better spent addressing the underlying socioeconomic causes of
civil strife rather than applying overwhelming military force to
attack the symptoms. We're not doing the Colombian people any favors
by funding civil war.

Nor are Americans being protected from drugs.

Destroy the Colombian coca crop and production will boom in Peru,
Bolivia and Ecuador. Destroy every last plant in South America and
domestic methamphetamine production will increase to meet the demand
for cocaine-like drugs. Rather than waste tax dollars attempting to
overcome immutable laws of supply and demand, policy-makers should
look to the lessons learned from America's disastrous experiment with
alcohol prohibition.

While U.S. politicians use the drug war's collateral damage to justify
its intensification, European countries are embracing "harm
reduction," 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 drug treatment alternatives that do not
require incarceration as a prerequisite.

ROBERT SHARPE, Program Officer,
The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C.
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