Pubdate: Mon, 14 Dec 2009
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Andres Oppenheimer's Dec. 10 column U.S. may take new look
at 'war on drugs,' the drug war is a cure worse than the disease.
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With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun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, 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
that those who are addicted be incarcerated 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. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,
Washington, D.C. 
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