Pubdate: Sun, 06 May 2007
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2007 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


The violent turf wars being waged on Pittsburgh streets are a direct 
result of drug prohibition ("Police: Pittsburgh street war risks 
innocent lives: Drugs and rivalries are blamed for the violence 
that's killed 23 this year," May 2 and Attempts to 
limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only 
increase the profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs 
such as 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.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer 
gunned 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. 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.

The writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy (
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