Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jan 2002
Source: Dispatch, The (NC)
Copyright: 2002, The Lexington Dispatch
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Letter relates to the case of former Davidson County vice and 
narcotics Sgt. William Monroe Rankin, just released on bail and accused of 
conspiring to distribute illegal drugs.
Bookmark: (Corruption)

This insidious form of institutional corruption stretches from coast to 
coast and reaches the highest levels. In 1999 the Los Angeles Police 
Department Rampart scandal involved anti-drug officers selling drugs and 
framing gang members.

Last year the former commander of U.S. anti-drug operations in Colombia was 
found guilty of laundering the profits of his wife's heroin-smuggling 
operation. Entire countries have been destabilized due to the corrupting 
influence of organized crime groups that profit from the illegal drug trade.

Like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the drug war is causing tremendous 
societal harm, while failing miserably at preventing use. While U.S. 
politicians ignore the historical precedent, European countries are 
embracing harm reduction, a public health alternative based on the 
principle that both drug use and drug prohibition have the potential to 
cause harm.

Examples of harm reduction include needle exchange programs to stop the 
spread of HIV, marijuana regulation aimed at separating the hard and soft 
drug markets, and a range of drug treatment alternatives that do not 
require incarceration as a prerequisite.

Ironically, fear of appearing "soft on crime" compels U.S. politicians to 
support a failed drug war that effectively subsidizes organized crime.

Robert Sharpe, Program Officer, The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy 
Foundation, Washington, D.C.
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