Pubdate: Sat, 07 Dec 2002
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2002, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the Editor:

Veteran police officer Jack Cole is to be commended for raising awareness 
of drug prohibition's collateral damage ("Drug War's Strategy Fatally 
Flawed, Ex-Cop Says," Nov. 22).

Like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the drug war fuels organized crime 
and violence, which is then used to justify increased drug-war spending. 
It's time to end this madness, and instead treat all substance abuse, legal 
or otherwise, as the public health problem it is.

Drug policy should focus not on reducing the total number of people who use 
drugs, but rather on reducing the death, disease, crime and suffering 
associated with both drug use and drug enforcement. At present, drug users 
are reluctant to seek medical attention in the event of an overdose. 
Attempting to save the life of a friend could result in a murder charge. 
The zero-tolerance drug war results in easily preventable deaths.

Eliminating the stigma and penalties associated with drug use would 
facilitate rehabilitation and save lives. The tough-on-some-drugs approach 
compels problem drug users to suffer in silence.

I think it's safe to say that turnout at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings 
would be rather low if alcoholism were a crime pursued with zero-tolerance 
zeal. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe, program officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, DC
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth