Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2006
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
Copyright: 2006 PG Publishing
Author: Allan Erickson


Kudos to the Post-Gazette and Allegheny County Councilman Vince
Gastgeb for his well-written piece "Missing the Point" (April 13 "In
Rebuttal") concerning Pittsburgh's needle exchange program.

As Mr. Gastgeb points out, research into the program's effectiveness
needs to be done, progress charted, flaws found and corrected. And
perhaps most importantly, successes lauded.

At the end of his piece Mr. Gastgeb quotes PG columnist Ruth Ann
Dailey, who recently said (in an excellent column), "We need an open,
well-informed debate to find the right answer." What our current
anti-drug "leaders" will not do, however, is debate.

In Ms. Dailey's quote is the crux of the whole drug war miasma.
Prohibition advocates deny any legitimacy to programs like needle
exchange in the same breath they deny any medical efficacy to cannabis.

The prohibition mentality is a bigoted one relying on the outdated and
corrupt notion that certain behaviors must be purified. Completely.

Zero tolerance is social perfidy and amounts to no less than a pogrom
against an identifiable portion of society. There will never be
health-care relief as long as this nation follows punitive policies
instead of medically based ones. And it is, indeed, time for a
national debate, using major national network media, on all drug
policies. Prohibition hysterics, directed from a federal level, prevent it.

It is up to our nation's individual health professionals, our nation's
newspaper editors and our elected representatives at all levels of
government to encourage and provide that national forum.

Allan Erickson

Drug Policy Forum of Oregon

Eugene, Ore.
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