Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jun 2006
Source: Republican, The (Springfield, MA)
Copyright: 2006 The Republican
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Thank you for your editorial support for syringe access. ("No harmful 
side effects if needles become legal," The Republican, June 9). 
Needle exchange programs have been shown to reduce the spread of HIV 
without increasing drug use. They also serve as a bridge to drug 
treatment for an especially hard to reach population. Unfortunately, 
such programs give rise to a "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) reaction.

An alternative is syringe access regulation. Allowing drug users to 
purchase clean needles in pharmacies has the added benefit of not 
costing taxpayers a dime.   Unfortunately, tough-on-drugs politicians 
have built careers on confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage 
with drugs themselves. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs 
while demand remains constant increase the profitability of 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. When 
politics trumps science, people die. Centers for Disease Control 
researchers estimate that 57 percent of AIDS cases among women and 36 
percent of overall AIDS cases in the U.S. are linked to 
injection-drug use or sex with partners who inject drugs. This 
preventable public health crisis is a direct result of zero-tolerance 
laws that restrict access to clean syringes. Drug abuse is bad, but 
the drug war is worse.


Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C. 
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman