Pubdate: Sat, 23 Mar 2002
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: The Hamilton Spectator 2002
Author: Bruce Symington
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Heroin Maintenance)


RE: 'Cocaine fuels rise in crime' (March 19). I was interested in the 
comments attributed to Hamilton police in describing their efforts to get 
at the root of the city's crime and drug problem.

They state that crimes are committed by addicts desperate to pay for their 
addiction. Therefore, they deduce, law enforcement must go after the drug 

How unfortunate that we stop at that level rather than getting to the root 
of the problem: prohibition. If there were no prohibition, the price of the 
legal supply would be reasonable and the addict could afford his/her 
addiction without resorting to property crime.

The British proved that this approach worked when they had a program of 
heroin prescription, and there is a movement afoot to reinstate it. The 
Dutch model has proven that, when drug users aren't persecuted, crime rates 
drop. And the Swiss have reduced crime and societal problems by supplying 
heroin to addicts and  returning them to society's mainstream.

These methods recognize that being human means making mistakes, and 
persecution for mistakes that harm nobody else leads to bigger problems for 
society and the individual.

If police endorsed revising North American approaches to drug use to bring 
them more in line with European methods, we'd all be better off.

Bruce Symington, Medicine Hat, Alberta.
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