Pubdate: Sun, 30 Sep 2007
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2007 The Huntsville Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Huntsville Public Safety Director Rex Reynolds makes the common 
mistake of confusing drug-related crime with prohibition-related 
crime. 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With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun 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 drive-by shootings. Consumers no longer 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,
Washington, D.C.

Robert Sharpe is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy.
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