Pubdate: Mon, 03 Feb 2003
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2003 The Sun-Times Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


The case of Joseph Miedzia-nowski, dubbed Chicago's most crooked cop [news 
story, Jan. 24], is not an isolated incident. The institutional corruption 
engendered by the drug war stretches from coast to coast and reaches the 
highest levels. The high-profile Los Angeles Police Department Rampart 
scandal involved anti-drug officers selling drugs and framing gang members. 
A 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 by the corrupting influence of 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 drug war's historical precedent, 
European countries are embracing harm reduction, a public health 
alternative based on the principle that both drug abuse and 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 U.S. politicians to support a failed drug war that ultimately 
subsidizes organized crime. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe

Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance

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