Pubdate: Mon, 04 Jun 2007
Source: Aurora, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2007 The Aurora
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Cpl. Keith MacKinnon's May 28th op-ed: 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 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 Canada's southern neighbour remains
committed to moralistic drug policies modeled after its disastrous
experiment with alcohol prohibition, Europe has largely abandoned the
drug war in favour 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.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C., U.S. 
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