Pubdate: Tue, 30 Nov 2004
Source: Hattiesburg American (MS)
Copyright: 2004 Hattiesburg American
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


Your Nov. 21 editorial makes the common mistake of confusing drug-related 
crime with prohibition-related crime. Attempts to limit the supply of 
illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profitability 
of drug 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.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each 
other down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go blind drinking 
unregulated bath-tub 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 
many U.S. politicians to support a failed drug war that ultimately 
subsidizes organized crime.

Robert Sharpe

policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C. 
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