Pubdate: Thu, 22 Mar 2012
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Times-Standard
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Dave Stancliff's "Growing global movement to legalize drugs
faces uphill battle," (Mar. 18, Times-Standard), there is a middle
ground between drug prohibition and blanket legalization.
Switzerland's heroin maintenance program has been shown to reduce
disease, death and crime among chronic users. Providing addicts with
standardized doses in a clinical setting eliminates many of the
problems associated with illicit heroin use. The success of the Swiss
program has inspired heroin maintenance pilot projects in Canada,
Germany, Spain, Denmark 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 organized crime controls marijuana distribution,
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of addictive
drugs like methamphetamine. 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 tax dollars on failed
policies that finance organized crime and facilitate hard drug use.
Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like
to think the children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, MPA Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy
Washington, D.C.
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