Pubdate: Thu, 08 Aug 2002
Source: Post and Courier, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.


Regarding your July 20 editorial: "Operation Broken Needle" did not "make 
the peddling of illegal drugs on our streets less profitable." The drug war 
is not exempt from immutable laws of supply and demand. Drugs were recently 
taken off Charleston streets, but with drug problems among residents left 
intact, addicts are now forced to pay higher prices. The resulting increase 
in local crime will no doubt be labeled "drug-related." Prohibition-related 
is a more accurate term.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each 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 drug war's 
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 include needle exchanges 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 U.S. politicians 
to support a failed drug war that ultimately subsidizes organized crime. 
Instead of providing price supports for drug cartels, we should be funding 
cost-effective drug treatment.


Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance

925 15th Street, NW

Washington, D.C.
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