Cannabis News Marijuana Policy Project
  Does Tolerating Marijuana Keep People Off Drugs
Posted by FoM on August 29, 2001 at 09:40:32 PT
Downtown Section 
Source: ABC 

cannabis Some of America's biggest taboos thrive in the Netherlands, where prostitution is a legitimate and profitable industry, and same-sex marriage and euthanasia are legal. And in 1976, the Netherlands decided to tolerate — meaning allow without legalizing — the sale and use of cannabis in some 1,200 licensed "coffee shops."

While Dutch officials believe their policy of tolerance is the antidote to the presence of harder drugs, Downtown's hidden cameras encountered a different reality. Dealers were on what seemed like every street corner, selling drugs like heroin and cocaine.

All drug use — not just marijuana — is decriminalized in Holland, but the growers who supply the drugs operate illegally and can face prosecution.

'Remarkably Benign Drug'

The age minimum to purchase marijuana or hashish (a drug made from hemp) is 18, and the daily limit is 5 grams (.2 ounces), which is the equivalent of about five joints.

"The customer base is everybody from 18 to 80," says Arjan Roskam, who operates the Greenhouse Coffee Shops in Amsterdam. "A lot of politicians. I have a lot of police officers. They're all allowed to smoke in Holland."

American psychologist Art Lecesse went to Holland to research drug use. He was so impressed by the policy that he moved there.

"Here, you don't have to go to jail if you're a marijuana smoker," says Lecesse. "The goal is to try to keep young people in particular away from the criminal drug environment that may get them involved with the harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin."

He adds: "Just like there are many people in the United States who think it's OK to have a beer with lunch, there are also many people here who feel it's OK to smoke a joint after lunch. … All Holland is doing is acting on pharmacological evidence that in terms of its acute and long-term affects, marijuana is a remarkably benign drug."

Dr. Els Borst, the Dutch minister of health, says cannabis does not have serious health risks. "People have died from tobacco and alcohol, from heroin, from cocaine. But never from cannabis," she says.

Steppingstone for Harder Drugs?

Borst also points to a study that shows among Dutch citizens who smoke cannabis, 75 percent abstain from all other drugs.

But retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former U.S. "drug czar," believes marijuana is a steppingstone to harder drugs.

"We don't agree that marijuana is a benign drug. We think it leads to dysfunctional behavior, it requires effective drug treatment and we want to see high social disapproval of marijuana use," McCaffrey told Downtown.

He has called Dutch drug policy "an unmitigated disaster," and says that half the teenagers entering drug treatment programs in the United States are chronic abusers of marijuana.

Complete Title: Smoking Dope: Does Tolerating Marijuana Keep People Off Harder Drugs?

Published: August 29, 2001
Copyright: 2001 ABC News Internet Ventures

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Comment #13 posted by Annonymous on September 02, 2001 at 08:13:09 PT:

What is the real problem here?
Just who did the government think they were to so blatantly violate our constitutional rights in the first place? Marijuana was originally prohibited in 1937 with a prohibitive tax that required anyone found possessing or using the drug to pay a certain amount of money per unit of the drug, in addition to having it confiscated. How did this happen? The government spread (and still spreads) a myriad of misinformation regarding cannabis all over the country; one can easily find classic examples of brainwashing propaganda from the "Reefer Madness" period. They made outrageous claims, such as that marijuana turned people into violent, raping, belligerent zombies with a mind for destruction. Lies such as this led to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, and everything went downhill from there. But why did the government feel a need to prohibit something as harmless as marijuana? Part of the answer is a racial stereotype that existed at the time, and, in fact, still exist today...marijuana became associated with Mexicans and Black jazz musicians, people the fat cats in Washington did not like at the time, so they banned the substance and concentrated the enforcement of this new law almost exclusively against minorities. Even today, blacks represent by far the largest group in prison for marijuana offenses, even though they represent a smaller proportion of actual marijuana users.
The real problem here is that no one even addresses the real issues behind the drug problem. Everyone has been brainwashed into thinking only about how to incarcerate all drug users and dealers, and not how to reduce the problem and harm done by these drugs. Children in our schools are frightened with stories of people in prison for minor drug offenses and false information as to the effects of drugs, especially marijuana. The outlet for this misinformation is a program America has unforunately grown to love known as D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). Even the name of this program is a misnomer; instead of focusing on drug abuse, which does cause harm and tragedy for all those involved, the program has opted to attack all drug use, including the casual use of marijuana, which by the way has never been proven to have any long-term health problems associated with its use, other than those brought on by smoke inhalation.
The government needs to wake up and smell the chronic; so many millions of Americans have smoked marijuana at some point in thier lives that its prohibition is not possibly practical. Roughly fourth of us would be languishing in prison now, including those who use it only as a method to relive pain and nausea, or to enjoy the last few years, months, or days before they die. As the poll here suggests, an overwhelming majority of us supports legalization over locking up smokers and throwing away the key. Al Gore, Bill Clinton (even IF you didn't inhale), if we went by your rule, YOU should be in jail now!

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #12 posted by Patrick on August 30, 2001 at 00:26:22 PT
You made a very valid point when you said, "I believe that the major television networks will soon be forced to cover the "snowballing" war on the war on drugs if they want to maintain a large viewership."

I think the mainstream media is controlled by a combination of money, sensationalism, and genuine journalism. Money binds us all of us together in one way or another. When our very own government oppresses its people, it will become news! We used to live in a democracy. Now, we live in an oppressive politicracy. This concept hasn't hit the news because currently drugs are "bad" and no one DARE ever question that law might be "bad?" That is until the news of the law starts hitting home. You know the stories. "Joey is in jail for smoking pot again! His mom has to bail him out and pay thousands of dollars in fines and she likes to smoke occasionally too! He will never finish community college now without a student grant and loan. What a crock, they should make pot legal already sheesh."

The media has suppressed those kinds of stories. Why?

Mainstream media has avoided pointing out the obvious abridges to our freedoms because, their broadcast license or "right" to broadcast comes from the FCC. Or in other words "the government itself." To prove my point, think of how we as a nation tolerate the abridgement to FREE SPEECH everyday when something is bleeped out on the TV or the radio.

What usually makes the evening news? The world, its leaders, the violence, the money, and the crime rates, and the prisons, and the crime and the law enforcement unions, and government salaries, and the drugs, and the money, and the crime, and SWAT raids and shows like COPS and on and on and on without ever mentioning the 700,000 pot smokers, that Willie Nelson proudly speaks for, being locked up for simply having or smoking some pot.

Now up until the unregulated advent of the Internet, people could not communicate this quickly on a worldwide scale. Global changes are in the wind and inevitable in my humble opinion. The violence on both sides of this "huge block of time" in our history called the "Drug War," is nothing more than a grab for each side's piece of the pie out of fear and self-centeredness.

The "modus operandi" of this new manner of media communication allows us to communicate effectively the truth as we see it. We can instantly communicate the problems created by failed prohibition policy. We can point out the tyranny and the growing oppression of an unrelenting government. A government willing to spend the peoples money to lock up people who are working, paying taxes and otherwise living a peaceful life just because they happen to enjoy smoking marijuana recreationally.

And finally point out the most appalling aspect to this whole prohibition and war is the persecution of the sick and dying. Their struggle to even obtain relief from their pain and suffering from something that obviously works for them, is beyond contempt, it is criminal. And that my friends is News!

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by FoM on August 29, 2001 at 22:03:20 PT
I think you can view the poll this way
I hope this works. It's up to 78% in favor of marijuana legalization and over 24,000 people have voted so far. I only was able to vote once so it could be fairly accurate. You'll probably need your cookies turned on but I think I eliminated the java stuff.

This is really good.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #10 posted by FoM on August 29, 2001 at 17:00:51 PT
Current Poll Results: Ta! Da!
Should Marijuana Be Legalized?



TOTAL: 13, 962

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #9 posted by herbsmoker on August 29, 2001 at 16:49:07 PT
should the herb be legalized..?
oh yes i can see the day we can all burn openly..but it is the controlling powers who do not care about that..they want to see dope smokers in prison and paying large fines to help fuel the unwinnable war on drugs..i may live to see legal weed in the US, but it will be from afar where i will be burning hard with the cop next door and laughing...

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #8 posted by mayan on August 29, 2001 at 16:10:31 PT
We Will Assume Control!!!
The fact that this article is from Walt Disney's is just another sign that we are making signifigant progress. More and more mainstream media outlets are jumping on the bandwagon. This seems to be snowballing very rapidly.

Unless you want to know about Gary Conditt, you can't find out what is really going on in the rest of the world by simply watching television. It is a major media blackout! More Americans are forced to get their news from the internet & are there finding out what the powers that be don't want them to know.

I beleive that the major television networks will soon be forced to cover the "snowballing" war on the war on drugs if they want to maintian a large viewership. They are now being forced to compete with the internet for news & information & the internet is whipping them like unwanted, red-headed step-children!

If we can win over the mainstream media this bogus war will be over real quick.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by FoM on August 29, 2001 at 12:14:49 PT
Here's The Message Board
I couldn't post the poll but the message board will work I think. Good News!

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by sillyman on August 29, 2001 at 11:55:47 PT
abcnews poll
Check out the link from comments #1 and #3. As of 2:45pm EST
70.8% Yes
29.1% No
9029 people responding.

The message board from the original article is worth checking out too.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by Juan Costo on August 29, 2001 at 11:20:17 PT
Marijuana treatment
Weasel McCaffrey neglects to add that forced treatment accounts for these misleading figures and that the zero tolerance approach does not distinguish between use and abuse. A 17-year-old caught smoking his or her very first joint would qualify for "treatment" in McCaffrey's mind.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #4 posted by SkippyB on August 29, 2001 at 11:10:11 PT
Odd quote.

He has called Dutch drug policy "an unmitigated disaster," and says that half the teenagers entering drug treatment programs in the United States are chronic abusers of marijuana.

So Dutch policy is a disaster because half of the teenagers in abuse programs in the U.S. use marijuana?

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #3 posted by Patrick on August 29, 2001 at 10:38:49 PT
McCaffrey Scmaffery
"But retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former U.S. "drug czar," believes marijuana is a steppingstone to harder drugs. "We don't agree that marijuana is a benign drug. We think it leads to dysfunctional behavior, it requires effective drug treatment and we want to see high social disapproval of marijuana use," McCaffrey told Downtown."

Just who is we Barry?

Today at

Should Marijuana be legalized?

@ 10:20 PST

Yes = 69.3%
No = 30.6%

Total Votes = 7,168

Now I know politicians use the polls to their advantage. So my question is, how can support for marijuana legalization give any hungry want to be elected politician the image of "being soft on drugs." Looks like voicing the opinion to legalize marijuana may actually get em elected from this view!

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by E. Johnson on August 29, 2001 at 09:45:56 PT
It's the revolution
ABC has acknowledged the Netherlands!

But why are they still quoting McCaffrey?

The man no longer plays a role in American drug policy.

But it's worth it for the nostalgia just to hear him lie again.

McCaffrey and CLinton both have trouble with that little word "is". They both have trouble with understanding what the meaning of the word "is" is.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 29, 2001 at 09:44:16 PT
Poll - Should Marijuana Be Legalized?
Smoking Dope

Does legalized marijuana help keep people off harder drugs? Downtown's hidden cameras head to Holland, where a tolerant drug policy may — or may not — be the antidote. Do you think marijuana should be legalized in the United States?

[ Post Comment ]

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