Pubdate: Sun, 10 Aug 2008
Source: New York Times Magazine (NY)
Page: MM6
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Note: The New York Times Magazine is a section of the Sunday edition 
of the New York Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Ambassador Thomas Schweich (July 27) just doesn't get it. Afghanistan 
profits from the opium trade because of prohibition, not in spite of 
it. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand 
remains constant 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. Switzerland's heroin 
maintenance program has reduced disease, death and crime among 
chronic users. Heroin-maintenance pilot projects are under way in 
Canada, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Prescription heroin 
maintenance could deprive organized crime of a core client base, 
which might render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable. It might 
also undermine Taliban funding in Afghanistan. Of course, admitting 
that drug prohibition is the problem rather than the solution is 
tantamount to admitting the emperor wears no clothes.

Robert Sharpe

Common Sense for Drug Policy