Pubdate: Sun, 8 Jun 2008
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Scotsman Publications Ltd
Author: Robert Sharpe


REGARDING Tom Brown's column (Opinion, June 1), there is a middle
ground between drug prohibition and blanket legalisation.
Switzerland's heroin maintenance programme 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 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.

Cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without the
ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is
critical. As long as cannabis distribution remains in the hands of
organised crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will
continue to come into contact with sellers of cocaine and heroin.
Given that cannabis is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no
sense to waste public resources on cannabis prohibitions that finance
organised 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, 
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