Drug policy: Zero Tolerance or Harm Reduction - your opinion? FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 1 Mar 1999 16:36:47 -0800 (PST)

I'm impressed that Netherlands officials consult herion users when framing
drug policies and programs.  Many homeless people are affected by
government response to drug users, so maybe we also deserve a seat at the
drug policy-makers' table.

Prohibition and "Zero Tolerance" only criminalize a health problem. One
result is that nonviolent drug users get mixed in with violent prisoners.
Another result is that current users get little or no help.  In short, I
think the war on drugs sucks up tax monies we could use better for
treatment and drug education.

We need a "public health" perspective on drugs - how do you keep the most
people "healthy" and those with dieeases "less sick?  The answer, I think,
is "harm reduction" for currents users -- clean needles, detox on demand,
guaranteed housing -- whether one is using or not.

The "harm reduction" approach seems to have worked in some places in
Europe. In the US, sadly, it's political suicide to even discuss.

I invite onther' commments.  I'm especially interested in what drug users
and folks in recovery have to say.  Been there?  Speak out if you will!

Lives are at stake.  So we need to think, plan and act with care on the
issue of drug use.

This is also an opoportunity for us to see if we can debate a hot topic
with reason and evidence, rather than with ideological labels and

Decriminalize poverty! -- Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>

PS:  As to pot, why not just legalize it?  It's certainly safer than
cigarettes, alcohol and some perscription drugs, all of which are legal.

[Subject was: Rotterdam: "Junkie Union" Activist Remembered  FWD]
> Nico dealt very skillfully with the media. Press contacts were generally
> carefully prepared as he viewed them as opportunities to educate the
> general public. The media became an important ally of the Junkiebond.
> During the summer of 1982, every Friday night, the Junkiebond presented an
> hour long radio show on the most popular national station. While he was
> always willing to talk and negociate with the politicians and the
> "Treatment Industry," the Junkiebond did not shy away from activist
> strategies-City hall and offices of treatment organizations were occupied
> more than once. As a result of meetings and activism, perhaps unique in the
> world, Dutch parliament passed a motion urging the government to include
> organizations of drug users into policy making. Equally important, Nico
> launched many significant initiatives in the provision of drug services in
> Rotterdam. Many of these were organised by the junkiebond itself, often in
> cooperation with minister Hans Visser of the Paulus Church, for example,
> the cafeteria for users in the church basement; a sleeping facility for
> homeless users; toleration zones; platform zero; etc..

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