Pubdate: Fri, 3 Sep 2010
Source: Erie Times-News (PA)
Copyright: 2010 Erie Times-News
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Lou Aliota's Aug. 20 op-ed, ("To reduce poverty, stop drug
abuse," Erie Times-News), the drug war is a cure worse than the
disease. 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With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun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 from
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, MPA

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C. 
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