Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jul 2009
Source: Gloucester Daily Times (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Eagle Tribune Publishing Company
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the editor:

Regarding the My View column from Police Chief Michael Lane and the
Health Department's Joan Whitney (The Times, Saturday, July 25):
Because heroin is sold via an unregulated black market, its quality
and purity fluctuate tremendously.

A user accustomed to low-quality heroin who unknowingly uses pure
heroin will likely overdose. The tough-on-drugs approach is part of
the problem.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains
constant only increase the profitability of 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.

While the U.S. remains committed to moralistic drug policies modeled
after America's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition, Europe
has largely abandoned the drug war in favor of harm reduction
alternatives. Switzerland's heroin maintenance program has been shown
to reduce drug-related disease, death and crime among chronic users.

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

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.
Putting public health before politics may send the wrong message to
children, but I like to think the children are more important than the

For information on the efficacy of heroin maintenance, please read the
following British Medical Journal report:

To learn more about heroin maintenance research in Canada, please

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake