Pubdate: Thu, 10 Aug 2006
Source: Tuscaloosa News, The (AL)
Copyright: 2006 The Tuscaloosa News
Author: Robert Sharpe


Dear Editor:

The work of the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force is no doubt well 
intended, but ultimately counterproductive. Attempts to limit the 
supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase 
the profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs like 
methamphetamine, 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With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun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 neither 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. Drug abuse is bad, but
the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe, MPA policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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