Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jun 2002
Source: Independent (UK)
Section: Comment; Pg. 17
Copyright: 2002 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Sir: How should Britain respond to the growing use of crack cocaine 
(Analysis, 5 June)? Here in the United States, New York City Mayor Rudy 
Guiliani chose the zero tolerance approach during the crack epidemic of the 
1980s. Meanwhile, Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry was busy smoking crack 
and America's capital had the highest per capita murder rate in the 
country.  Yet crack use declined in both cities simultaneously. The decline 
was not due to a slick anti- drug advertising campaign or the passage of 
harsh mandatory minimum drug laws. Simply put, the younger generation saw 
first hand what crack was doing to their older brothers and sisters and 
decided for themselves that crack was bad news.

This is not to say that Britain can do nothing. Access to drug treatment is 
critical for the current generation of crack users. Britain's notoriously 
lengthy waiting lists for treatment ensure a prolonged crack epidemic. In 
order to protect future generations from drugs like crack, policymakers 
need to seriously consider taking Home Secretary David Blunkett's cannabis 
reclassification proposal one step further and legalising cannabis 
outright. As the most popular illicit drug, cannabis currently provides the 
black market contacts that introduce consumers to hard drugs. This 
"gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. Drug 
policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think 
the children themselves are more important than the message.


Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance

Washington DC
- ---
MAP posted-by: Ariel