Pubdate: Fri, 19 Oct 2007
Source: Western Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Media Wales Ltd
Author: Robert Sharpe


SIR -- I write in response to your October 16 editorial.

There is a middle ground between drug prohibition and blanket
legalisation. Switzerland's heroin maintenance programme has been
shown to reduce disease, death and crime among chronic users.
Providing addicts with standardised 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 organised crime of a core client base. This
would render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future
generations from addiction.

Cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without the
ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is
critical. As long as cannabis distribution remains in the hands of
organised crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will
continue to come into contact with sellers of cocaine and heroin.
Given that cannabis is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no
sense to waste scarce resources on failed drug policies that finance
organised crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs. Drug policy
reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the
children are more important than the message.


Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington DC, USA
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