Pubdate: Sat, 23 Sep 2006
Source: Evening News, The (CN NS)
Copyright: The Evening News 2006
Author: Robert Sharpe, MPA, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy


To The Editor,

Regarding Gwynne Dyer's thoughtful Sept. 18th column, Afghanistan 
profits from the opium trade because of drug prohibition, not in 
spite of it. Attempts to limit supply 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. Heroin produced in Afghanistan 
is primarily consumed in Europe, a continent already experimenting 
with harm reduction alternatives to the drug war. Switzerland's 
heroin maintenance trials have been shown to reduce drug-related 
disease, death, and crime among chronic users.

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 prices. 
Providing addicts with standardized doses in a clinical setting 
eliminates many of the problems associated with illicit heroin use. 
Heroin maintenance pilot projects are underway in Canada, Germany, 
Spain and the Netherlands. If expanded, prescription heroin 
maintenance would deprive organized crime of a core client base. This 
would render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future 
generations addiction. Putting public health before politics may send 
the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are 
more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC
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