Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jan 2007
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Copyright: 2007 Canberra Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Gwynne Dyer's column ("Police against drug prohibition make a case",
January 9, p9) was right on target. There is a middle ground between
drug prohibition and blanket legalisation. Switzerland's heroin
maintenance program 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 under way 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 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 organised crime,
consumers of the most popular illicit drug will continue to come into
contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine. It makes no sense to
waste scarce resources on failed policies that finance organised crime
and facilitate the use of hard drugs.

Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,
Washington DC, USA 
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