Regarding Matt Hutchins’ thoughtful Apr. 10th op-ed, 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 heroin use.
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. Heroin maintenance pilot projects are underway in Canada, 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.
The U.S. drug war is in large part a war on marijuana smokers. Marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without the ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard and softdrug markets is critical. As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of addictive drugs like cocaine andheroin. 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 hard drug use. Law students who want to help end the intergenerational culture war otherwise known as the war on some drugs should contact Students for Sensible Drug Policy at www.SchoolsNotPrisons.com.
For information on the efficacy of heroin maintenance please read the following British Medical Journal report: http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/327/7410/310
To learn more about Canada’s heroin maintenance research please visit:http://www.naomistudy.ca/
Robert Sharpe, MPA
Policy AnalystCommon Sense for Drug Policywww.csdp.org703-228-1762