Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2003
Source: Pilot,The (NC)
Copyright: 2003 The Pilot LLC
Author: Robert Sharpe


In her April 13 column, June Vetter confuses the drug war's collateral 
damage with drugs themselves. So-called drug-related crime is invariably 
prohibition-related. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while 
demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking.

In terms of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices leads 
desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. 
The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each 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, a 
public health alternative based on the principle that both drug abuse and 
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 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. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, DC
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