Pubdate: Sun, 31 Dec 2006
Source: Sunday Business Post (Ireland)
Copyright: 2006 The Sunday Business Post
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Tom McGurk's column (24/12/06), there is a middle ground
between drug prohibition and blanket legalisation.

Switzerland's heroin maintenance programme has been shown to reduce
disease, death and crime among chronic users. Providing addicts with
standardised doses in a clinical setting eliminates many of the
problems associated with heroin use.

Heroin maintenance pilot projects are underway in Canada, England,
Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. If expanded, prescription heroin
maintenance would deprive organised crime of a core client base. This
would render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future
generations from addiction.

Cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, but without the
ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is
critical. As long as cannabis distribution remains in the hands of
organised crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will
continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs such as cocaine.

Given that cannabis is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no
sense to waste scarce resources on failed drug policies that finance
organised crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs.

Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like
to think the children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington DC, US
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