Pubdate: Sat, 2 Jan 2010
Source: Day, The (New London,CT)
Copyright: 2010 The Day Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


The editorial titled "Victimless crime? Tell that to Cordova family,"
published Dec. 27, made the common mistake of confusing drug-related
crime with prohibition-related crime. Attempts to limit the supply of
illegal drugs, while demand remains constant, only increases 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With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun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 potentially 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.

Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe

Washington, DC

Editor's note: The writer is a policy analyst with Common Sense for
Drug Policy. 
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