Pubdate: Wed, 07 May 2003
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2003 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Robert Sharpe, Drug Policy Alliance
Bookmark: (Heroin Maintenance)


A Baltimore grand jury's recommendation that doctors distribute narcotics 
to heroin addicts merits serious consideration ("Grand jury suggests 
distribution of drugs to fight evils of trafficking," May 8).

Addicts would not be sharing needles if not for zero-tolerance laws that 
restrict access to clean syringes, nor would they be committing crimes if 
not for artificially inflated black market drug prices.

Providing chronic addicts with standardized doses in a clinical setting 
eliminates many problems associated with illicit heroin use. Switzerland's 
heroin maintenance program, for instance, has been shown to reduce 
drug-related disease, death and crime among chronic users.

Indeed, while the United States remains committed to harmful drug policies 
modeled after alcohol prohibition, Europe has largely abandoned the drug 
war in favor of harm reduction alternatives. The success of the Swiss 
experiment has led to pilot heroin maintenance programs in Germany, Spain 
and the Netherlands.

Expanded, prescription heroin maintenance could deprive organized crime of 
a core client base. This could render illegal heroin trafficking 
unprofitable and spare future generations the pain of drug addiction.
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