Pubdate: Thur, 20 May, 1999
Source: Evening Express (UK)
Contact:  Hugh Robertson (aka Shug)


Having read several articles on heroin in the UK recently, I can't help but
wonder why we ever stopped prescribing heroin to registered addicts -- a
practice now having successful trials in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands have a comparatively minor problem with heroin compared to
Britain and most other Western European countries. One of the main points of
the policy which has enabled this relative success was the setting up of
'coffee shops' over 20 years ago, along with a sensible education policy.
The 'coffee shops' effectively decriminalised cannabis and separated the
market for cannabis from that of hard drugs. Another of the mainstays of
their policy is to treat addiction as a medical and social problem and not a
criminal problem -- which has led to the trial prescribing of heroin.

The long term policies have resulted in having a relatively small, stable
number of heroin addicts but they also have the lowest rate of teenage use
of cannabis in the western world. The results of the Swiss trials are
extremely encouraging with lowered rates of homelessness and unemployment
and a fall in drug-acquisition-related crime taking part.

So just why are this country's political parties so blinkered when it comes
to this issue?

Hugh Robertson

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