* This commentary was published in the Washington Times, on December 15, 1997.
President Clinton should be hailed by his AIDS advisers for his refusal to fund “needle exchange” programs. Instead, they allege, he lacks “courage and political will.” Providing drug addicts with clean syringes in exchange for dirty ones will reduce the risky behavior associated with injecting dangerous drugs, they argue, and thus reduce HIV infections. This “feelgood” solution makes sense to sober people, but drug addicts are a unique population to which logic does not apply.
This is why the president should continue to resist the AIDS lobby: Recent results of epidemiological studies in Baltimore, Montreal and Vancouver, British Columbia, show a tremendous increase in new HIV and AIDS cases among participants in needle exchange programs. “Injecting Drug Use Associated With More AIDS Cases in Maryland Than Nationally” is the title of the report published in October by the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland. Its findings are alarming: While injecting drugs accounts for 26 percent of AIDS cases nationally, in Maryland, it accounts for 42 percent, of which the majority ( 52 percent ) are in Baltimore.
Baltimore’s longstanding needle-exchange program was established under the auspices of Mayor Kurt Schmoke. The mayor’s “enlightened attitude towards the drug problem,” said billionaire financier-philanthropist George Soros, was the reason he awarded Baltimore $25 million to expand the city’s progressive social projects. But if the recent results of Maryland’s AIDS study are any indication, we can expect that Mr. Soros’ money, coupled with Mr. Schmoke’s “enlightened attitude,” will cause rapid growth of new HIV and AIDS cases in Baltimore and Maryland.
Evidently, these disturbing results do not alarm the Washington-based Drug Policy Foundation ( DPF ) and San Francisco’s Tides Foundation. Both organizations are supporting alternative drug policies, especially “harmreduction” and needle exchange programs. Both are funded by Mr. Soros. The DPF has received several million dollars from Mr. Soros in the past four years, and the Tides Foundation was in August, the recipient of a $1 million gift from Mr. Soros for needle exchanges.
Both organizations have now gone one incredible step further, to fund the distribution of safecrackuser kits: the Piper ( Crack ) Smokers user kit, which includes paraphernalia and instruction for “Safer Using” and “Things Not To Do,” and the “Shoot Smart, Shoot Safe” pamphlet, which has “tips for safer crack injection.” This brochure seems to make a new development in the campaign to legalize or medicalize illegal drugs.
In addition to instructions on “how to,” the brochure contains pictures demonstrating proper injection. A person who had never used crack before will find the instruction quite helpful. The kits and free needles are distributed through needle-exchange programs of the health departments of Philadelphia and Bridgeport, Conn.
These “harm productionists” are people and organizations that take their lead and most of their funding from Mr. Soros. In 1996, it was largely Mr. Soros’ funding that led to the successful campaign to amend local laws to permit the use of “medical” marijuana in California and all other illegal drugs in Arizona. ( The initiative has since been reversed in Arizona by the legislature, but the Clinton administration has failed to pursue a reversal in California. )
In his book “Soros on Soros,” he says, “If it were up to me, I would establish a strictly controlled distribution network through which I would make most drugs, excluding the most dangerous ones like crack, legally available.” But now the foundations that he sponsors are funding the distribution of safecrackuser kits for smokers and injectors.
“The people who distribute these are harmproductionists and not harmreductionists,” said Dr. Robert DuPont, the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIDA ), “because they promote drug use.”
Mr. Soros, who claims to be the champion of “open societies” and individual freedom, now seems to promote the worst kind of slavery: crack addiction. Doesn’t he see the inconsistency?
Mr. Soros’ vision of an “open society” does not allow for prohibitionist drug policies and the implementation of the criminal justice code in drug abuse cases. He claimed in a Sept. 1 Time magazine cover story, that he has already given $90 million and is soon planning to add $15 million more to advance alternative drug policies.
With the advantage of Mr. Soros’ checkbook advocacy and advanced marketing techniques heavy on “compassion,” pro-legalization initiatives to “medicalize” or “decriminalize” drugs in other states in the United States by the end of 1998 are in full gear. And Mr. Soros does not limit his efforts to push forward his agenda. Last week, he endorsed the campaign for “medical” marijuana launched by the Independent newspaper in England. If successful, Britain had better brace itself for the safecrackuser kits that are bound to follow.
Mr. Soros’ relentless efforts and many millions of dollars have made a noticeable difference: Endorsing drug “medicalization,” “decriminalization” or “legalization” has become the politically correct thing to do. Even U.S. drug policy is now focused more on “treatment” than “war.”
Mr. Soros now says he does not support drug legalization. What he does, he says, is help “to fight the evils of the drug laws.” And since drug prohibition does not work, it will be more realistic, Mr. Soros claims, to provide drugs to those who need them. Mr. Soros and his prodrug activists’ message is that drug use is here to stay, constituting a civil right.
Marc Galanter, director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at the New York University Medical Center, disagrees. “Cocaine presents a dangerous health risk at any level ( especially crack ), and the demonstration of its supposed safe use can only support its abuse.”
As for needle-exchange as prevention for AIDS, Dr. Curtis observed that “the fact is that sexual promiscuity associated with crack is the lead cause for new cases of HIV and AIDS.”
Perhaps this information will give the president the courage he needs to resist Soros’s affilated AIDS advisers.