Pubdate: Wed, 16 Mar 2005
Source: Star-Ledger (NJ)
Copyright: 2005 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: The writer is a policy analyst at Common Sense for Drug Policy
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


The Star-Ledger is kidding itself if it thinks a lot of good has come from 
the war on drugs. ("More sensible drug law," March 3) Attempts to limit 
supplies 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 their habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime; it fuels crime.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, bootleggers no longer gun down each 
other 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 can 
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. 
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, Arlington, Va.
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