Pubdate: Sun, 26 Dec 2010
Source: Times, The (Malta)
Copyright: 2010 Allied Newspapers Limited
Author: Robert Sharpe


There is a middle ground between drug prohibition and blanket 
legalisation. Switzerland's heroin maintenance programme has been 
shown to reduce disease, death and crime among chronic users. 
Providing addicts with standardised doses in a clinical setting 
eliminates many of the problems associated with illicit heroin use.

The success of the Swiss programme has inspired heroin maintenance 
pilot projects in Canada, Germany, Spain, Denmark and the 
Netherlands. If expanded, prescription heroin maintenance would 
deprive organised crime of a core client base. This would render 
illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future generations addiction.

Cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without the 
ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is 
critical. As long as organised crime controls cannabis distribution, 
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of 
addictive drugs like cocaine.

Given that cannabis is arguably safer than legal alcohol -- the plant 
has never been shown to cause an overdose death -- it makes no sense 
to waste tax revenue on failed policies that finance organised 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.

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

To learn more about Canada's heroin maintenance research visit

Robert Sharpe, MPA, Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, DC
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom