Letter: Time to change battle tactics in war on drugs

With the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the increasing devastation of a deadly heroin epidemic, it’s time to grasp the reality that America will never solve its drug problem by going after supply and must switch focus and pursue demand. The “War on Drugs” and the prison industrial complex must give way to decriminalization, harm reduction and a medical approach.

Mr. Hoffman might well be alive today if he had received his heroin not from a drug dealer but from a clinic, where he would have gotten a known quantity of a pure substance in a clean needle at a safe space. A clinic policy changes the drug demand profile. Drug dealers can’t stay in business when the addicts — the major consumers — are getting their drugs from a legal source. The result is less crime, less violence, less corruption and less incarceration.

All the science supports harm reduction. It’s time for us to dismantle an unscientific orthodoxy and grapple with the situation as it really is. It’s time for America to embrace a medically sound, scientific policy and end the War on Drugs.

Keith Greiff, via email



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  1. In a dangerous and futile attempt to stamp out alcohol, tobacco, heroin, marijuana, pornography, prostitution, marital infidelity, and even masturbation, this former land of the prosperous and free has been shamelessly pillaged by groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Society, The Anti-Saloon League, The Anti-Cigarette Movement, The Social Purity Movement, The Social Hygiene Movement, and now our latter day Drug Warriors.

    Prohibitionists often express the belief that the resulting suffering and mayhem that their policy engenders is in no way connected to the basic and erroneous mechanism of prohibition. They simply claim that they haven’t yet been granted sufficient governmental powers to make prohibition work. These sadistic, sociopathic, perverts actually believe that only the removal of even more of our basic individual rights and freedoms will allow them to do their “work” successfully.

    Legalizing and regulating all drugs will not increase consumption—everything is already available right now. Drugs of all varieties are cheap and plentiful, and the basic economics of drug dealing remain: Take one dealer off the street, and another takes his place. Something that simply doesn’t happen for real crimes like murder, embezzlement, assault or burglary.

    The Founding Fathers were not social conservatives who believed that citizens should be subordinate to any particular narrow religious moral order—this is what the whole concept of unalienable individual rights means. And sumptuary laws, especially in the form of prohibition, were something they continually warned about.