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Regarding Hiroaki Sato’s March 1 article, “What ‘prohibition’ has wrought“: 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.

The success of the Swiss program has inspired pilot heroin maintenance 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 marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will continue to come into contact with sellers of addictive drugs.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol, 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

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