Pubdate: Fri, 16 Mar 2007
Source: Hoya, The (DC Edu)
Copyright: 2007 The Hoya
Author: Robert Sharpe



Regarding Niara Phillips' thoughtful viewpoint, "Ghetto's Poor Not the
Prime Cause of Crime" (THE HOYA, Feb. 27, 2007, A3), the drug war has
been waged in a racist manner since its inception.

The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was preceded by a wave of
anti-immigrant sentiment. Opium was identified with Chinese laborers,
marijuana with Mexicans and cocaine with African-Americans. Granted,
today's drug warriors are (hopefully) not out to incarcerate as many
minorities as possible.

But attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains
constant only increase the profitability of trafficking. For addictive
drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices may lead desperate addicts
to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The war on
drugs doesn't fight crime; it fuels crime.

With alcohol prohibition having been repealed, liquor bootleggers no
longer gun each other down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers 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.

Robert Sharpe

Common Sense For Drug Policy

Arlington, Va.
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