Pubdate: Thu, 27 Nov 2008
Source: Santa Ynez Valley Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Santa Ynez Valley Journal
Author: Robert Sharpe, MPA - Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy


There is a middle ground between drug prohibition and blanket
legalization. Switzerland's heroin maintenance program has been shown
to reduce disease, death and crime among chronic users.

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

The success of Switzerland's heroin maintenance program has inspired
pilot programs 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 is controlled by organized crime, consumers of
the most popular illicit drug will continue to come into contact with
sellers of addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.

This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition. Given that
marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol - the plant has never
been shown to cause an overdose death - 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, MPA

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Arlington, Va.
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