Pubdate: Sat, 25 Mar 2006
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Copyright: 2006 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: Robert Sharpe


Afghanistan profits from the opium trade because of drug prohibition,
not in spite of it. Attempts to limit the supply of drugs while demand
remains constant only increase the profitability of drug

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
drug prohibition. Switzerland's heroin maintenance trials have been
shown to reduce drug-related disease, death and crime among chronic

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. 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

Robert Sharpe,

Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy,

Arlington, Virginia
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