Pubdate: Tue, 18 May 1999
Date: 05/18/1999
Source: Independent, The (UK)
Author: Hugh Robertson
Sir: Having read your series on heroin in the UK last week, I wonder why we
stopped the practice of prescribing heroin to registered addicts - a
practice now being successfully trialled in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands have a minor problem with heroin compared with most
Western European countries. One of the main reasons is the setting up
of "coffee shops" over 20 years ago, along with a sensible education
policy. The coffee shops decriminalised cannabis and separated the
market for cannabis from that for hard drugs.

Another mainstay of their policy is to treat addiction as a medical
and social problem and not as a criminal problem, which has led to the
trials with prescribing heroin.

As well as a relatively small, stable number of heroin addicts they
also have the lowest rate of teenage use of cannabis in the western

Why are this country's political parties so blinkered?

Hugh Robertson,