Pubdate: Mon, 06 Jan 2003
Source: Hattiesburg American (MS)
Copyright: 2003 Hattiesburg American
Author: Robert Sharpe


That (Mississippi) drug czar Frank Melton doesn't have law enforcement 
credentials is not necessarily a bad thing. Overemphasis on law enforcement 
solutions to public health problems results in needless deaths. Drug users 
are reluctant to seek medical attention. Rehabilitation is also confounded. 
Turnout at Alcoholics Anony-mous meetings would be rather low if alcoholism 
were a crime pursued with zero-tolerance zeal.

Eliminating the stigma and penalties associated with illicit drug abuse 
would facilitate rehabilitation and save lives.

Unfortunately, tough-on-drugs politicians have built careers on confusing 
drug prohibition's collateral damage with drugs themselves. When politics 
trumps science, people die.

Centers for Disease Control researchers estimate that 57 percent of AIDS 
cases among women and 36 percent of overall AIDS cases in the U.S. are 
linked to injection drug use or sex with partners who inject drugs.

This easily preventable public health crisis is a direct result of 
zero-tolerance laws that restrict access to clean syringes.

Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe,

program officer,

Drug Policy Alliance,

Washington, D.C.
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