Pubdate: Fri, 19 Jul 2013
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2013 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding The Star-Ledger's July 14 editorial ("Missing the point on 
heroin"), the quality and purity of black-market heroin fluctuates. A 
user accustomed to low-quality heroin who unknowingly uses pure 
heroin will overdose. The inevitable tough-on-drugs response to 
overdoses is a threat to public safety. Attempts to limit supply 
while demand remains constant increase the profitability of drug trafficking.

For addictive drugs such as heroin, a spike in street prices leads 
desperate addicts to increase criminal activity. The drug war doesn't 
fight crime; it fuels crime.

While the United States remains committed to moralistic drug policies 
modeled after our disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition, 
Europe has largely abandoned the drug war in favor of harm-reduction 

Switzerland's heroin maintenance program has been shown to reduce 
drug-related disease, death and crime among chronic users.

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 of 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 message.

Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy
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