Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jun 2004
Source: Cyprus Mail, The (Cyprus)
Copyright: Cyprus Mail 2004
Author: Robert Sharpe



The reported increased in heroin-related deaths in Cyprus is cause for 
alarm. Because heroin is sold via an unregulated illicit market, its 
quality and purity fluctuate tremendously. A user accustomed to low-quality 
heroin who unknowingly uses near pure heroin will likely overdose. The 
inevitable tough-on-drugs response to overdose deaths is a very real threat 
to public safety.

Attempts to limit the supply of 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.

Switzerland's heroin maintenance trials have been shown to reduce 
drug-related disease, death and crime among chronic users. Addicts would 
not be sharing needles if not for zero-tolerance laws that restrict access 
to clean syringes, nor would they be committing crimes if not for 
artificially inflated black-market prices.

Providing chronic addicts with standardized doses in a clinical setting 
eliminates many health and public safety problems associated with heroin 
use. Heroin maintenance pilot projects are under way in Germany, Spain, 
Canada and the Netherlands.

If expanded, prescription heroin maintenance would deprive organised crime 
of a core client base. This would render illegal heroin trafficking 
unprofitable and spare future generations addiction. Putting public health 
before politics may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think 
the children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, MPA Policy Analyst,

Common Sense for Drug Policy,, Washington
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