Pubdate: Wed, 12 Dec 2007
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Author: Robert Sharpe


Because heroin is sold via an unregulated black market, its quality 
and purity fluctuate tremendously. A user accustomed to low-quality 
heroin, who unknowingly uses pure heroin, will likely overdose.

The inevitable tough-on-drugs reaction to overdose deaths is part of 
the problem.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs 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.

While the U.S. remains committed to moralistic drug policies modeled 
after alcohol prohibition, Europe has largely abandoned the drug war 
in favor of public health alternatives.

Switzerland's heroin maintenance program has been shown to reduce 
drug-related disease, death and crime among chronic users.

Providing chronic 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.

For information on the efficacy of heroin maintenance, please read 
the following British Medical Journal report:

To learn more about heroin maintenance research in Canada, please 

ROBERT SHARPE, MPA, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, 
Washington, D.C.
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