Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2011
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2011 Ralph Givens
Author: Ralph Givens
Note: First of 4 letters in response to


Joseph A. Califano Jr. and William J. Bennett are seriously mistaken
when they suggest that ending America's long-failed drug crusade will
lead to a "Needle Park" situation in the U.S. ("Do We Really Want a
'Needle Park' on American Soil?," op-ed, July 1)

After a few missteps, the Swiss solved many of their drug troubles by
creating a successful policy of enforcement, treatment, harm reduction
and prevention, with a heroin maintenance program that supplies
addicts with cheap, pharmaceutical-grade heroin, methadone and other
things they need. There is no longer a Needle Park in

Messrs. Califano and Bennett neglect to mention that since beginning
the heroin maintenance program the Swiss have seen a great reduction
in addict-caused crime in Switzerland, which is something America's
drug warriors do not want to talk about. Demand for outlaw drug
dealers in Switzerland has declined because no one buys bootleg drugs
when a source of cheap, guaranteed pure, legal drugs is available.

Since the heroin maintenance program began in the early 1990s the
Swiss have virtually eliminated overdose deaths for those in the
program, and injection-transmitted diseases (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C,
etc.) have been greatly reduced. By reducing addict-caused crime,
lowering overdoses and stopping transmission of needle-related
diseases, the Swiss drug policy has resulted in a great decrease in
heroin addiction's damage to society.

In addition to these concrete benefits, the Swiss are saving large
amounts of money in lower policing, incarceration and health-care
expenses. The Swiss are so pleased with the results of their heroin
maintenance program that they endorsed the national drug policy with a
vote of more than 68% in a national referendum in November 2008.

The facts show that Messrs. Califano and Bennett are cheerleaders for
a counterproductive drug policy that has filled our prisons with
"victimless criminals" while doing nothing to reduce drug addiction.

Ralph Givens

Daly City, Calif.
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