Pubdate: Thu, 13 Sep 2001
Source: Guardian Weekly, The (UK)
Section: Page 13
Copyright: Guardian Publications 2001
Authors: Robert Sharpe & Kirk Muse


David Broder was right on target (A highly debatable war on drugs, August 
30). A cost-benefit analysis of the United States drug war is long overdue. 
Instead of wasting billions of dollars incarcerating non-violent drug 
offenders while waging a futile supply-side war abroad, the US should be 
funding cost-effective treatment.

A Bush proposal to expand the Clinton administration's $1.3bn Plan Colombia 
into a broader Andean initiative will not negate the laws of supply and 
demand that drive illegal drug production. Creating a global welfare state 
in which every developing country is paid not to grow illicit crops is an 
expensive proposition.

The armed factions tearing Colombia apart are financially dependent on 
profits generated by drug prohibition. While US politicians continue to use 
the drug war's collateral damage to justify its intensification at home and 
abroad, European countries are embracing harm reduction, a public health 
alternative based on the principle that both drug use and drug enforcement 
can cause harm.

Ironically, the fear of appearing "soft on crime" compels many politicians 
to support a punitive drug policy that fuels organised crime and violence, 
while failing miserably at preventing use.

Robert Sharpe The Lindesmith Centre-Drug Policy Foundation, Washington DC, USA

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David Broder was right on the mark when he wrote that "the whole 'war on 
drugs' cries out for re-examination". This re-examination should not be 
limited to techniques or strategies on how best to fight the "war". The war 
is unwinnable and should not be fought.

A free country's government has no business dictating to its adult citizens 
what substances its citizens may or may not consume.

Prohibition of alcohol did not work in the US because the prohibition of 
any desired substance cannot work in a free society. The law of supply and 
demand cannot be repealed or nullified.

Kirk Muse Vancouver, Washington, USA
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