Pubdate: Wed, 16 Mar 2005
Source: Mountain Xpress (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Mountain Xpress
Author: Robert Sharpe


Terry Bellamy and Carl Mumpower make the common mistake of confusing
drug-related crime with prohibition-related crime in their March 2
commentary [Where We All Live]. Attempts to limit the supply of
illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the
profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs like heroin, a
spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal
activity to feed desperate 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With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun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 many U.S. politicians to support a failed drug
war that ultimately subsidizes organized crime.

Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy ( Washington, D.C.
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