Pubdate: Sat, 02 Mar 2002
Source: New Scientist (UK)
Copyright: New Scientist, RBI Limited 2002
Author: Stephen Heath


As Britain and other countries in Europe continue to change their drug 
policies away from criminalisation toward a more health-based approach, we 
in the US can't help but be a little envious (2 February, p44).

European "harm reduction" approaches actually produce far lower rates of 
illicit substance use than here in America, and you also enjoy far lower 
rates of property crime and violence associated with criminal drug dealing.

This is despite the fact that we have federal task forces devoted to 
raiding medical marijuana operations and we arrest over 700,000 citizens 
every year for marijuana alone. We also have the dubious distinction of 
incarcerating twice as many of our citizens as does the entire European 
community, whose population is a third greater than ours. Meanwhile, our 
government officials wring their hands and lament that current drug 
treatment is only available on demand in about 15 per cent of cases.

An aggressive advertising campaign authorised by Bush's Office of National 
Drug Control Policy was released during the telecast of the Super Bowl (an 
American football championship game). In it, the ONDCP attempts to tie the 
War on Terrorism to the War on Drugs. While the connection is extremely 
dubious, it clearly illustrates that our current President is less 
interested in policies that work than in waging worldwide war on whatever 
front he can find. America's very real problems with drug abuse bear the 
heavy burden of such a myopic mindset.

Stephen Heath,
Drug Policy Forum of Florida,
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