Pubdate: Thu, 22 Feb 2001
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: The Hamilton Spectator 2001
Author: Robert Sharpe


RE: 'Police vow to stamp out muggings' (Feb. 20). Speaking on behalf 
of a U.S.-based advisory group on drug problems, I think Hamilton 
Police Chief Ken Robertson misunderstands the relationship between 
violence and the growing crack cocaine problem in Hamilton.

If Robertson succeeds in reducing the supply of crack while demand 
remains constant, the street price will skyrocket. Desperate crack 
addicts will then increase criminal activity to feed desperate 
habits. With cocaine trafficking made more profitable, new dealers 
will quickly replace those taken off the streets.

The drug war effectively fuels crime.

This is not to say that crack should be legalized; there are 
cost-effective alternatives that do not involve legalizing hard drugs.

Despite dramatically lower per capita spending on the drug problem, 
the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by 
replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets and establishing controls 
for age has proved more effective than zero tolerance.

As the most popular illicit drug in Canada, marijuana provides the 
black market contacts that introduce users to drugs like crack. The 
"gateway" status ascribed to marijuana is the direct result of a 
fundamentally flawed policy.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes 
no sense to perpetuate drug policies that finance organized crime and 
facilitate the use of hard drugs.

The Washington-based Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation is a 
drug policy organization working to broaden and better inform the 
public debate on drug policy and related issues. The Lindesmith 
Center, created in 1994, is the leading independent drug policy 
institute in the United States. The Drug Policy Foundation, founded 
in 1987, represents over 25,000 supporters who favour alternatives to 
the current war on drugs and is the principal membership-based 
organization advocating for drug policy reform. The two organizations 
merged on July 1, 2000, with the objective of building a national 
drug policy reform movement.

Persons wishing more information are encouraged to visit our Web site 

- -- Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C.,

Program Officer,

The Lindesmith Center

- - Drug Policy Foundation
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