Pubdate: Sat, 20 Dec 2008
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Robert Sharpe


Drug prohibition is a cure worse than the disease ["It's time to end
the war on drugs,"Neal Peirce syndicated columnist, Dec. 14]. Attempts
to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant
only increase the profitability of drug 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.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun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. Unfortunately, fear of appearing
"soft on crime" compels many U.S. politicians to support a failed drug
war that ultimately subsidizes organized crime.

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.
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