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Letter: Heavy-Handed Tactics Are Not Solving Problem

Alun Buffry

Evening News, Norwich

Monday 13 Apr 1998

So drug-related crime has shot up in the area (Evening News April 7).
What a surprise!

It proves that heavy-handed prohibitionist tactics are doing nothing to
solve the drugs problem or the associated fund-raising crime.

To punish an addict is senseless; they need help. Forcing them to buy
their substances of addiction at hugely-inflated illegal market prices,
does nothing to help them.

I am not suggesting that hard drugs be available over the counter in the
corner shop, but it is surely about time that the supply of hard drugs
was taken out of the hands of the criminal organisations and pushers.
Drugs which cost thousands of pounds on the illegal market could be
supplied by doctors at a fraction of the cost. This would immediately
knock the bottom out of the criminal supply, reduce fund-raising crime
drastically, and help in the identification and treatment of addicts.

Such an idea is more than feasible. It has already been tried - and it
succeeded - by Doctor John Marks in an area of Liverpool. He legally
supplied heroin to addicts and all the above positive consequences were

The incidence of new addiction dropped - there was no need for the
addicts to raise funds through passing on some of their illegal drugs at
a profit to new users.

To a person who's heart is set on prohibition and punishemnet the idea
of helping addicts may seem unappealing. What is clear is that the
present system is disastrous, and a new approach is needed.


Alun Buffry




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