Pubdate: Mon, 28 Apr 2008
Source: Badger Herald (U of WI, Madison, WI Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Badger Herald
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Kyle Szarzynski's thoughtful opinion column ("'War on drugs'
cloaks oppression," April 23), 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

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC 20012
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