Pubdate: Mon, 20 May 2002
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2002 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Robert Sharpe


"Drugs -- mainly crack cocaine and marijuana -- are the root of many of the 
crimes," according to the Daily Mail's May 13 article, "West Siders fight 
to curb crime." So-called drug-related crime is in reality 
prohibition-related. There is a clear historical precedent.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each 
other down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go blind drinking 
unregulated bathtub gin.

While our politicians ignore the lessons learned and their relevance to 
drug policy, 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 treatment alternatives that do not require incarceration 
as a prerequisite.

Unfortunately, fear of appearing "soft on crime" compels many politicians 
to support a punitive drug policy that ultimately subsidizes organized crime.

Robert Sharpe
Washington, D.C.

Sharpe is program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit drug 
policy organization. 
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