Pubdate: Thu, 02 Feb 2006
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2006 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


There is a middle ground between drug prohibition and blanket 
legalization. Switzerland's heroin maintenance trials have been shown 
to reduce 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. Heroin maintenance 
pilot projects are under way in Canada, Germany, Spain and the 
Netherlands. If expanded, prescription heroin maintenance would 
deprive organized crime of a core client base. This would render 
illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future generations addiction.

Marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without 
the ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard- and soft-drug 
markets is critical. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the 
hands of organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug 
will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs such as 
cocaine. This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally 
flawed policy. Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal 
alcohol, it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies 
that finance organized crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs.

Robert Sharpe,

MPA Policy analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom