Pubdate: Mon, 02 Oct 2006
Source: Bradenton Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2006 Bradenton Herald
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Regarding your Sep. 28 editorial, the case of the Manatee Sheriff's 
deputies allegedly protecting drug dealers is not an isolated 
incident. The institutional corruption engendered by the drug war 
stretches from coast to coast and reaches the highest levels. The 
high-profile Los Angeles Police Department Rampart scandal involved 
anti-drug officers selling drugs and framing gang members. A former 
commander of U.S. anti-drug operations in Colombia was found guilty 
of laundering the profits of his wife's heroin smuggling operation. 
Entire countries have been destabilized by the corrupting influence 
of the illegal drug trade. Like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the 
drug war is causing tremendous societal harm, while failing miserably 
at preventing use.

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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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman