Abuse Is Bad, but War Is Far Worse

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 2, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Ex-Cop Walks the Talk in Anti-Prohibition Effort” [“Reefer Madness,” News] Nov. 2 by Jordan Smith: Former Police Officer b of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is to be commended for speaking out against the War on Drugs. 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    With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor-bootleggers no longer gun one another down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin.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 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 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, MPA
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
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