Pubdate: Sun, 08 Mar 2009
Source: Japan Times (Japan)
Copyright: 2009 The Japan Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Hiroaki Sato's March 1 article, "What 'prohibition' has
wrought": 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.

The success of the Swiss program has inspired pilot heroin maintenance
projects in Canada, Germany, Spain, Denmark 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.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no
sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized
crime and facilitate hard drug use. 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


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's
own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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