Pubdate: Sat, 11 Nov 2006
Source: Daily Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Scott Taylor's Nov. 1 column, Afghanistan profits from the 
opium trade because of drug prohibition, not in spite of it. Attempts 
to limit supply 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. Heroin produced in Afghanistan is primarily consumed 
in Europe, a continent already experimenting with harm reduction 
alternatives to the drug war. 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 addicts with standardized doses in a clinical setting 
eliminates many of the problems associated with illicit heroin use. 
Heroin maintenance pilot projects are underway 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. 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

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