Pubdate: Thu, 28 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Targum (Rutgers, NJ Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Daily Targum
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding your thoughtful Feb. 26 editorial, there is a middle ground
between drug prohibition and blanket legalization. Switzerland's
heroin maintenance program has effectively reduced disease, death and
crime among chronic users. Addicts would not be sharing needles if not
for zero-tolerance laws that restrict access to clean syringes, nor
would they be committing crimes if not for artificially inflated black
market prices.

Providing addicts with standardized doses in a clinical setting
eliminates many of the problems associated with heroin use. Heroin
maintenance pilot projects are underway in Canada, England, Germany,
Spain and the Netherlands. If expanded, prescription heroin
maintenance would deprive organized crime of a core client base. This
would render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future
generations addiction.

Marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without the
ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is
critical. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of
organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will
continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine.
Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol - the plant
has never been shown to cause an overdose death - it makes no sense to
waste scarce resources on failed policies that finance organized crime
and facilitate the use of hard drugs.

Students who want to help reform harmful drug laws should contact
Students for Sensible Drug Policy at

Robert Sharpe

Robert Sharpe is a policy analyst at Common Sense for Drug Policy in
Washington, D.C.
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