Pubdate: Mon, 02 Aug 2004
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2004 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Editor -- Thank you for your editorial support for SB1159, the California
legislation that would allow the sale of clean syringes without a
prescription to those 18 or older.

Although needle-exchange programs have been proved to reduce HIV
transmission without increasing drug use, they often give rise to a NIMBY
reaction. Allowing drug users to purchase needles in pharmacies has the
added benefit of not costing taxpayers a dime.

Unfortunately, tough-on-drugs politicians have built careers on confusing
drug prohibition's collateral damage with drugs themselves. Attempts to
limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant increase the
profitability of trafficking.

For 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. When politics trumps
science, people die. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers
estimate that 57 percent of AIDS cases among women and 36 percent of overall
AIDS cases in the United States are linked to injection-drug use or sex with
partners who inject drugs.

This preventable public-health crisis is a direct result of zero- tolerance
laws that restrict access to clean syringes.

Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

ROBERT SHARPE Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh