Pubdate: Sat, 03 May 2003
Source: Savannah Morning News (GA)
Copyright: 2003 Savannah Morning News
Author: Robert Sharpe


In response to your April 24 editorial, "Timely 'weeding' by GBI," weeding 
out street-level drug-dealing is easier said than done.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant 
only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. The obscene profits to 
be made guarantee replacement dealers.

In terms of addictive drugs like heroin, a temporary spike in street prices 
leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed their habits. 
The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each 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 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 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

Washington, D.C.
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