Pubdate: Thu, 09 Oct 2008
Source: Savannah Morning News (GA)
Copyright: 2008 Savannah Morning News
Author: Robert Sharpe


Your Sep. 18th editorial makes the common mistake of confusing
drug-related crime with prohibition-related crime. Attempts to limit
the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only
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. With alcohol prohibition
repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each other down in drive-by
shootings, nor do consumers go blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin.

While U.S. politicians ignore the drug war's historical precedent,
European countries are embracing harm reduction, a public health
alternative based on the principle that both drug abuse and
prohibition have the potential to cause harm. Examples of harm
reduction include needle exchange programs to stop the spread of HIV,
marijuana regulation aimed at separating the hard and soft drug
markets, and treatment alternatives that do not require incarceration
as a prerequisite. Unfortunately, fear of appearing "soft on crime"
compels many U.S. politicians to support a failed drug war that
ultimately subsidizes organized crime. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug
war is worse.

Robert Sharpe Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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