Pubdate: Wed,  4 Sep 2002
Source: Clarksdale Press Register (MS)
Copyright: 2002, Clarksdale Press Register
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


Dear Editor: The case of the Clarksdale police officer found guilty of 
extortion ("Officer gets 10 months," Friday, Aug. 30) is just one of many 
examples of institutional corruption engendered by the drug war. This 
corruption stretches from coast to coast and reaches the highest levels. 
The high-profile Los Angeles Police Department Rampart scandal involved 
anti-drug officers selling drugs and framing gang members. A 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 have been destabilized due to the corrupting influence of the 
illegal drug trade. Like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the drug war is 
causing tremendous societal harm, while failing miserably at preventing 
use. Drug laws fuel organized crime and violence, which is then used to 
justify increased drug-war spending. It's time to end this madness and 
start treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public 
health problem it is. 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 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 politicians 
to support a punitive drug policy that ultimately subsidizes organized crime.

Robert Sharpe, Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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