Pubdate: Fri, 13 Apr 2007
Source: Herald-Dispatch, The (WV)
Copyright: 2007 The Herald-Dispatch
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Howard J. Wooldridge's Apr. 10 guest column, there is a
middle ground between drug prohibition and blanket

Switzerland's heroin maintenance program has been shown to reduce
disease, death and crime among chronic users. Addicts would not be
sharing needles if not for zero-tolerance laws that restrict access to
clean syringes, nor would they be committing crimes if not for
artificially inflated black market prices.

Providing addicts with standardized doses in a clinical setting
eliminates many of the problems associated with 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.

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
organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will
continue to come into contact with sellers of methamphetamine.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no
sense to waste scarce resources on failed policies that finance
organized 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,

Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,

Washington, D.C.
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