Pubdate: Thu, 24 Sep 2009
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding your Sept. 7 editorial "Mexico sees the light on drug
battle," 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 illicit heroin use. The success of the
Swiss program has inspired heroin maintenance pilot 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 like
methamphetamine. Marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol. It
makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance
organized 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

Arlington, Va. 
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