Pubdate: Fri, 05 May 2006
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2006 The Sun-Times Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Stanley Crouch's April 28 column ["Today's version of Prohibition is 
just as bad for America"] was right on target. Attempts to limit the 
supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase 
the profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs such as 
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.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun 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 have the potential to 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 politicians to support a failed drug war that ultimately 
subsidizes organized crime.

Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.
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