Two Countries Took The Drugs Test. Who Passed? 

  Two Countries Took The Drugs Test. Who Passed? 

Posted by FoM on February 23, 2002 at 19:02:24 PT
By David Rose, Reports from Utrecht 
Source: Observer UK 

On the busy road which skirts Hoog Catherijne, a vast indoor shopping mall, the Stationsplein centre in downtown Utrecht looks like some kind of clinic. The walls are tiled, the floor is bright linoleum. There's a neat reception area and, four days a week, a nurse. Stationsplein's main business happens in a row of glass-fronted rooms, equipped with benches and sinks. In one of them crack addicts suck vapours from makeshift pipes; in another, heroin smokers chase the dragon. A final space is reserved for injectors. It goes without saying that their state-provided needles are clean. 
Last week in Britain, some commentators were endorsing calls from the newly ennobled former New York mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, to jail cannabis smokers , and vilifying Brian Paddick, police commander of Lambeth, for telling an internet forum that the drug laws need reform. To arrive in Holland's fourth largest city is to cross a cultural chasm. First there is the obvious: like most Dutch towns, Utrecht, population 300,000, has its coffee shops, 40 of them, each selling dozens of brands of cannabis to smoke at the tables or take away. In Holland, ideas considered dangerously radical in Britain attract little controversy. 'There is no war on drugs in the Netherlands,' says Machel Vewer, a senior police detective who has spent the past decade working with addicts. 'What's the point of making war on part of your own country? Drugs are here and they're always going to be. This is a social problem, not a criminal one, and the whole of society has to tackle it - not leave it to the police on their own. 'This means accepting that addicts are people too: that they have their backgrounds, their stories, and you have to respect them. They can still lead useful lives, and they're not a lost group. If you look at England, France, Spain, they all have drug problems. But Holland started thinking about how to deal with this much earlier. We're not deluded we can solve the problem entirely, but we can contain it, make it controllable. You are 20 years behind.' This is no utopia. Around the stairwells and walkways of Hoog Catherijne, Utrecht's addicts, many of them homeless, are highly visible: hunched, gaunt, unshaven. The mall and its customers, brimming with prosperity, present an inevitable target for thefts to fund pur chases from dealers, which still remain illegal. But measured against the near-catastrophe of drugs policy in Britain, the evidence suggests the Dutch are right. Last summer I spent weeks researching two Observer articles about hard drugs in Britain. As I rapidly discovered, the past decade has seen an explosion in Class A drug use, mainly crack and heroin. Seizures by Customs and police have soared, but the price has fallen steadily, while the market has expanded far beyond its former inner-city strongholds. In Cotswold villages of golden stone and tea shoppes, heroin can be summoned more easily than a takeaway meal. As the drug research charity Drugscope confirmed last week, teenagers are progressing from cannabis to crack and heroin much more quickly. With increasing drug dependency, drug-related crime has surged. Good intentions and good ideas to deal with this crisis have not been lacking. Since the mid-1990s, Governments have recognised the need to cut demand through education, and invested heavily in drug rehabilitation. Yet, with the sole exception of the present Home Secretary David Blunkett's move to reclassify cannabis as a Category C drug, the basic legal framework has remained untouched. Commander Paddick can ask his officers not to arrest for smoking a spliff, but sanctioning coffee shops is not within his remit. More radical reform remains a political taboo. In Holland, drug policy begins with pragmatism. Its central objective, says Harold Wychgel, of Drugscope's Dutch equivalent, the Utrecht Trimbos Institute, 'is to reduce the risks posed by the use of drugs to the users themselves, people in their immediate vicinity, and society at large'. The Dutch accept that achieving this may require apparent contradictions and compromises. Selling cannabis through coffee shops remains theoretically illegal. 'They could close me down tomorrow,' says the manager of Utrecht's largest, a fume-filled den in a fine Renaissance building by the banks of the Rhine canal. Yet his trade is merely regulated, with the police checking that his bags of resin from the Middle East and potent hydroponic 'Nederweed' weigh no more than 5g, and that none of his customers is under 18. The policy is rigorously enforced, says Vewer. One shop was caught supplying to under-age smokers, and its licence was withdrawn. In the coffee shops, the police are regulating businesses dependent on organised crime. At their back doors, owners buy their supplies from criminal importers and traffickers, who just as in Britain are investigated, prosecuted and sent to prison. Is this a problem? Vewer shrugs genially. Apparently not. The Rhine canal shop manager smiles. 'I've been doing this for 25 years.' He pauses. 'Buying is just... well, allowed.' In border areas, and in honeypots such as Amsterdam, coffee shops have boosted Holland's income from tourists. However, the reason they began to appear in 1976 was as a means of separating the markets for soft and hard drugs, and thus for closing the dealers' 'gateway' from cannabis to heroin and cocaine. The policy may rely on a legal fudge, but the evidence that it works is overwhelming. 'Just look at the figures,' says Wychgel. 'Heroin is just not an issue here in the Netherlands. The number of addicts has been stable, at around 25,000, for20 years. And the addicts are getting older; few youngsters are joining them.' At an average £20 a gram, Dutch heroin is about half the price it is in England, where the fact that the drug is cheaper than it was in 1990 has helped dealers persuade their customers to transfer from cannabis. Per head of population, Holland has perhaps a quarter of Britain's addicts. Meanwhile, Holland also has significantly fewer cannabis smokers, especially among teenagers. From the age of 10, children are given drugs education. It tries, says Wychgel, to present the facts about drugs in a way which removes any sense of glamour, but leaves the decision up to the individual. 'We say, "It's your responsibility, this is what drugs will do." We don't tell kids simply "no", we say "know".' Trimbos surveys 10,000 Dutch schoolchildren every four years. The last study, in 1999, showed a small decline in cannabis use - 20 per cent of those aged 15-16 had tried it, and 5 per cent smoked it regularly. Less than one in 1,000 had tried heroin. The same year the European Drug Monitoring Centre found 40 per cent of British children the same age had tried cannabis, and one in 50 had used heroin. A similar pragmatism, with reducing harm as the governing principle, is visible in the way Utrecht deals with hard drugs. The smoking and shooting rooms at Stationsplein form part of an impressive network of facilities. Some deal with the homeless addict's survival needs. At the Inlope centre, beneath another part of the shopping mall, registered users can get a shower, clean clothes, cheap hot food, a game of pool and a respite from the rigours of the street. The new Stek building, a smart bungalow next to a canal, combines drug-taking rooms with a cafe and common room. From an addict's point of view, the benefits are obvious. 'Before they built this place,' says Martin, 34, a crack and heroin user for 16 years, 'they hunted us. You had to use on the street and look behind you. Now you can really enjoy your stuff, and you're not so stressed. Life is much less aggressive.' At the same time, Vewer argues, wider society is also better off. The addicts' centres provide immediate access to rehabilitation programmes and employment training for those who want them, and some work at the centres themselves, cleaning, cooking or washing clothes and bedding. Ruud Laukon, a field coordinator from Utrecht's main drug social work project, the Centrum Mallieban, works seamlessly with Vewer: 'We and the police have the same viewpoint. If you treat addicts as criminals, they'll treat you as criminals do. Sending them to prison doesn't solve anything.' The addicts used to spend their days in a dark, fetid pedestrian tunnel beneath the Hoog Catherijne mall, which has now been closed. Intimidating and dangerous for passers-by, it also saw frequent violence between addicts. 'It's much easier now to have good relationships with them,' Vewer says. 'It creates a set of rules, and the addicts know they have to abide by them. It makes the scene much easier to control.' Patrolling the mall with two uniformed policemen, Robert Wisman and Sander van der Kamp, the personal nature of that control is strikingly apparent. Time and again, users greet the officers and stop to talk. As we pass through the maze of shops and restaurants, they point out the known dealers, some of whom they have sent to prison. In Utrecht, as in Britain, addicts steal to fund their habits. As we walk, Wisman explains how the thin blue line tries to hold back crime. 'We have a lot of bicycle theft. The addicts steal bikes and sell them to students. And theft from cars: they break the windows, take the stereo; and naturally some shoplifting, and a few pickpockets.' How about robbery, muggings? Wisman stops and the two officers confer. 'I think there may have been one last year. I'm not sure. It's very rare.' Car-jackings? They laugh. 'Not here.' Official figures bear them out. The Hoog Catherijne may be the centre of Utrecht's drug scene, but crime is no more common there than anywhere else. In 2000, the International Crime Victims Survey confirmed the impression from the streets: the crimes typically committed by drug addicts - burglary, robbery, shoplifting and theft from cars - are all significantly more prevalent in Britain than in Holland. Before boarding my train for the airport, I ask Wisman if he likes his job. 'Very much,' he says. 'Sometimes I get a little depressed that there's never going to be a real solution to the drug scene. But then again, I certainly don't think things are getting worse.' His reply speaks volumes about the difference between the British and Dutch approaches to drugs and crime. In Britain, successive politicians and police chiefs have vowed to defeat drugs, and in presenting their rhetorichave pumped up the enemy in the eyes of the public, exaggerating its strength and demonising addicts, using the media to create waves of what criminologists call 'crime panics'. The result has been an almost complete restriction on political room to manoeuvre. In Holland, a calmer conception of the relationship between the state and citizen, and awareness of the state's limitations, have created a strategy of containment and limiting harm, and where necessary, an expedient, pragmatic fudge. There's little doubt which has been more effective. Note: In Holland, there is no war on drugs. They believe this is a social problem, not a criminal one. And all the evidence suggests that their policy works. Special Report: Drugs in Britain:,2759,178206,00.htmlNote: The Dutch Lesson. Newshawk: puff_tuffSource: Observer, The (UK)Author: David Rose, Reports from UtrechtPublished: Sunday, February 24, 2002Copyright: 2002 The ObserverContact: letters Articles:The Dealers Think They're Untouchable Now... Laws Revolution Set for UK Model for UK Drug Laws

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Comment #23 posted by DANA on October 07, 2002 at 02:54:13 PT
..Glad to hear from you,,and I think you do have a somewhat valid point in saying that the name "CannabisNews",could limit the audience who would visit this site.....But;,,I have a hard time imagining an alternative name for what this site is all about.(?)......I dont mean to make fun of your suggestion;"Why not "news on drugs"...? Or something along those lines. ...",,,"News on Drugs",would be prone to immediate ridicule.
.....I agree with your concept of..;"...advocating for and focusing your enery towards creating a
      society in which an individual does not have to smoke a joint to be at peace with his reality. And maybe also promoting natural ways of reducing negative energy (e.g.stress) and achieving a positive midset through say the method of  meditation, yoga or a healthy diet. Maybe even ways to go out and have a blast instead of getting stoned to enjoy life."............................but what we are talking about here,has more to do with freedom of choice.I dont think that anyone here is trying to advocate getting stoned to enjoy life...What we're talking about here,is the absurd injustice,and hipocracy involved with the draconian laws that put a person behind bars for using an herb,,not to mention,the ridiculous laws that prohibit the use of hemp as an agricultural product.If we re-named this site,"",,and then tried to talk about what we are talking about,then we would be accused of being some kind of "trojan horse" site......We like everyone,and we are open to all opinions from anyone....but we are talking about one subject here,and I think that the title;"Cannabisnews",is quite appropriate.I agree with you when you say;"Drugs do not create a better society.  Open their eyes, don't make them red. I do feel that cannabis does serve many medicinal uses;".......BUT,,,,when you say;"... however, instead of
      promoting the use of cannabis for everyday use,...."...I think you are mistaken.This is not about promoting Cannabis for everyday use... No one is suggesting that everyone should smoke weed every day....We are suggesting that people should have the freedom to choose to use Cannabis if,and when they want to...My Mom died a painful death from cancer,,she lost her appetite,and she just withered away.She was so square,and proper,that she refused to try Marijuana,because it was "illegal".....The reason for CannabisNews,is to try and end the absurdity of prohibition,and matters relating to the grand charade,known as "the war on drugs"...I hope you will continue to visit us here chilliwilli.Our intentions are good,and you sound like a good person....................D..........
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Comment #22 posted by SWAMPIE on October 07, 2002 at 00:35:03 PT
CHILLIWILLI....There is anther address.....
that you can give out if you think the name is too scary for others to read.It is WWW.CISUM.COM. Welcome to C-NEWS. SWAMPIE
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Comment #21 posted by VitaminT on October 06, 2002 at 23:40:09 PT
I fail to see how CannabisNews, as a name, "glorifies" Cannabis. Like the title says it is news about Cannabis. When someone wants a collection of news about Cannabis this is one of the sites that any decent search engine will find - mainly because so many people come here! If you check the stats you'll find that CannabisNews is off the charts!The question of whether drugs create a better soceity is immaterial! People create soceities NOT drugs or even HERBS.Now let's talk about what destroys soceities - PROHIBITION! The Dutch Government doesn't want to glorify drug use, agreed, and why would they? What they DO want is to limit the havoc wrought by prohibition - as the stats posted earlier in this thread indicate (see comment #1 by FoM) they've done a wonderful job!I'm guessing you're not from the US so let me tell you something about our daily lives here: Our government GLORIFIES PROHIBITION! they spend BILLIONS of our TAX dollars mainly to suppress Cannabis and the millions who peacefully use it.It isn't a matter of glorifying Cannabis - God handled that task when he created it. The activists you read at this site are about the business of ending the cynical persecution of PEOPLE who use Cannabis for it's many benefits - none of those people are causing harm to anyone!
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Comment #20 posted by BGreen on October 06, 2002 at 19:33:45 PT
Like What, chilliwilli?
"Maybe even ways to go out and have a blast instead of getting stoned to enjoy life."We're fighting against the caging of non-violent humans who use cannabis for any reason. Telling somebody to climb a tree, stand on their head or spin around until they're dizzy instead of getting "stoned" isn't what we're fighting for, and as long as they're not hurting anybody it's none of your business or mine what they do.
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on October 06, 2002 at 19:15:29 PT
Thanks for the idea. For now just keeping things going along nicely here on C News is about all I or the site can handle. Thanks again.
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Comment #18 posted by chilliwilli on October 06, 2002 at 19:05:49 PT:
I think there are some very good points here. 
I feel that you could reach a much broader audience however if you did not 
produce this document under the website "cannabis news". Not many people who 
have strong beliefs against the use of drugs will visit the web site 
"cannabis news". Aren't they the audience you want to promote your ideas to. 
The fact that your website is called "cannabis news" is sort of glorifying its use. 
That is not what the Dutch gouvernment is seeking to do. Why not
"news on drugs"...? Or something along those lines.
Drugs do not create a better society. Open their eyes, don't make them red.
I do feel that cannabis does serve many medicinal uses; however, instead of promoting
the use of cannabis for everyday use, how about advocating for and focusing your enery towards
creating a society in which an individual does not have to smoke a joint to be at peace 
with his reality. And maybe also promoting natural ways of reducing negative energy 
(e.g.stress) and achieving a positive midset through say the method of meditation, yoga or a 
healthy diet. Maybe even ways to go out and have a blast instead of getting stoned to
enjoy life.Sincerely,Dan
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on February 24, 2002 at 15:43:55 PT
You know I'm easy to get along with. I just got a few complaints about articles. It's ok.
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Comment #16 posted by Dan B on February 24, 2002 at 15:15:01 PT:
I read the comment to Jose in another thread, and I have to say that I too am guilty of comments that do not pertain to the article itself (Example: Comment 14). I'll try to stay on topic from now on.Dan B
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on February 24, 2002 at 14:21:58 PT

Thanks Dan
Last night when the two articles were released I had them posted before they put the stats article up and since it was stats only I thought posting it in a comment would do. It sure does say a lot!Here it is again.
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Comment #14 posted by Dan B on February 24, 2002 at 13:55:31 PT:

Re: Craiggoth--plus, Thanks FoM
Thanks, FoM, for posting those stats. They illustrate quite clearly the rates of success for each approach and leave no doubt that Holland's approach is far better at controlling problems related to drugs (and not causing problems related to prohibition).Regarding Craiggoth's post--first of all, I appreciate you putting the link here and letting us come to our own conclusions about it. The first thing I noticed when I went to the link was that the article is published by the Council on Foreign Relations. Immediately, my "red flags" went up. The CFR is an organization whose intent is to create a one-world government, and that has been its goal since its formation in the mid 20th century. It has used and continues to use America's policies and America's strengths (e.g., its military and economy) to dominate and oppress the rest of the world. The goal is to unify the world into one oppressive system under the United Nations, which necessitates the destruction of any concept of national sovereignty. In other words, in order for the CFR to succeed, America must submit to the authority of the United Nations--including surrendering all of its military to the "superior" United Nations "Peacekeeping Forces." Every U.S. president since and including Jimmy Carter has been affiliated with the CFR and/or the Trilateral Commission (whose goals mirror those of the CFR). These presidents have filled their cabinets and other government offices with CFR and Trilateral Commission members. Consider how the use of American forces as part of United Nations missions has escalated in the past 30 years, and you'll realize that the CFR and Trilateral Commission have had their dirty hands in American policy for quite some time. There is much more. The Federal Reserve system plays a huge part in all of this as well (did you know that U.S. money is not American?). The new Eurodollar is also a part of it. So, when I see "CFR" attached to any memo, I have to consider in the light of their goals. Legal cannabis does not fit into their scheme of eventual global totalitarian control, which is why they are against the Dutch policy. I encourage everyone to learn about these organizations and what they plan to do to the United States and the world. The fight we are in now over cannabis is about much more than legalizing a plant. Dan B 
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on February 24, 2002 at 07:42:24 PT

How Britain Now Outstrips Holland 
I'm bringing this back up to the top so no one misses these statistics.
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Comment #12 posted by Jose Melendez on February 24, 2002 at 07:34:34 PT:

Cheney sued... by GAO!

WASHINGTON - The General Accounting Office, an arm of Congress, sued Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday to try to force the White House to reveal the identities of energy industry executives who helped the administration develop a national energy policy last year. 
It was the first time in the GAO's 80-year history that the agency had filed suit against a member of the executive branch for failing to turn over records to Congress. The lawsuit sets up a legal showdown between the accounting office, the investigative agency of Congress, and the White House over access to records of the national energy task force, of which Cheney was chairman. Congressional investigators are trying to determine whether executives from corporations that had contributed to President Bush's 2000 campaign, including the Enron Corp., helped shape the administration's national energy policy. ``We take this step reluctantly,'' David M. Walker, the comptroller general of the United States and director of the accounting office, said in a statement. ``Nevertheless, given GAO's responsibility to Congress and the American people, we have no other choice.'' 

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Comment #11 posted by Jose Melendez on February 24, 2002 at 07:13:13 PT:

Koop speaks out! 
from: abuse is a real problem, but the media have made it worse, contends no less an authority than former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. "Not only have exaggerated news stories stopped OxyContin from getting to people who need it most for pain relief, but they have hyped the drug for recreational use into being almost irresistible as the drug du jour," he said. 
Please substitute the word Cannabis for OxyContin, Dr. Koop. Both statements would be true.

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Comment #10 posted by goneposthole on February 24, 2002 at 07:05:24 PT

Concentration camps
Later on, this website will include the failings of the American prison system (concentration camps).
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Comment #9 posted by Jose Melendez on February 24, 2002 at 06:40:16 PT:


       Copyright 1999 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.
                Foreign Affairs

            November, 1999 / December, 1999

SECTION: REVIEWS; Responses; Pg. 135

LENGTH: 670 words

HEADLINE: Dazed and Confused;
Smoke and Mirrors over Dutch Drug Policy;
Human Nature

CRAIG REINARMAN is Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies at the
University of California at Santa Cruz and Visiting Scholar at the
University of Amsterdam's Center for Drug Research. PETER COHEN is
Professor of Social Epidemiology at the University of Amsterdam and
Director of its Center for Drug Research.

Larry Collins asserts that Dutch policies have caused an "explosion" of
heroin addiction and juvenile crime and claims that Holland has virtually
become a drug-dealing state causing havoc in neighboring countries. But
most of Collins' arguments are exaggerated, misleading, or false. Consider
the following examples.

Since 1976, the Dutch parliament has supported decriminalization and harm
reduction. But Collins does not quote a single Dutch official saying
anything positive about Dutch drug policy.

Collins claims that Dutch-grown marijuana is "enormously potent," with a
content of THC "as high as 35 percent." He cites studies by the Dutch
Trimbos Institute when they appear to support his case -- but not their
Drug Monitoring Program's study showing that the average THC content of
Dutch pot is 10 percent. Collins also neglects to mention surveys showing
that most Dutch users actually prefer the milder strains of marijuana and
that those who do smoke the stronger stuff use less of it.

Nor is there much reason to think that the Dutch drug approach has made
much more of the population try marijuana. Recent surveys in Amsterdam,
where marijuana has long been widely available, found that about 30 percent
of the population had tried it; surveys in the United States, where nearly
700,000 arrests were made last year to reduce pot's availability, found
that about 35 percent of people in comparably large cities had tried it.

Collins rejects official estimates of drug use in favor of unnamed
"critics" who contend that there are 35,000 addicts in the Netherlands.
But Collins never expresses this estimate as a rate and compares it to that
of other nations. With a population of about 15 million, 35,000 addicts is
1 in 428 Dutch citizens. The U.S. government estimates that there are
750,000 heroin addicts in its population of 265 million, or 1 in 353
Americans. Moreover, a 1998 report by the European Union (EU) Monitoring
Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction found that the Dutch rate of "problem
drug use" was lower than that of most other European countries.

Collins quotes an unnamed French police officer who alleges that an
"explosion" of "international trafficking groups" in the Netherlands was
caused by "the light sentences" and "liberal attitude" of Dutch judges. But
comparable nations with harsh laws and conservative judges giving heavy
sentences also have their share of such trafficking groups.

Collins attributes a "skyrocketing growth in juvenile crime" and "acts of
violence" to Dutch drug policy, arguing that marijuana use is most
prevalent in big cities -- as is violent crime. But correlation is not
causation. There is more of every "sin" in every big city, and crime has
also increased in countries with harsh drug laws.

Collins argues that the Netherlands' lenient drug policy has made it the
"narcotics capital of Europe," as if the French or the Germans would never
have found any drugs to use without the Dutch. This is not how humans or
markets work. EU data on narcotics seizure show supplies of illicit drugs
almost everywhere, and the Dutch share thereof has been stable for a decade.

Drug use among Dutch youth, Collins concludes, looks "remarkably similar to
the youth drug scene elsewhere in Europe." He seems to think that this
similarity damns Dutch drug policy, but it is really praise. Collins is
correct: Dutch drug use is indeed not much different from that of most
Western societies, including the United States. The Dutch just have less
HIV infection, deaths from overdoses, and imprisonment -- and less of
almost every type of drug use.

Globalization is fast creating a multicultural world with multiple
moralities and multiple lifestyles. One-size-fits-all drug policies are
doomed. The Dutch have a rich history of nonabsolutist problem-solving
from which many have learned much. But the Dutch are not proselytizing,
claiming that they see drug policy's promised land. Neither should those
pushing more punitive approaches.

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Comment #8 posted by Jose Melendez on February 24, 2002 at 06:39:38 PT:

not so fast, craiggoth 
found on a google cached page.,%2520et%2520al%2520%2520In%2520Foreign%2520Affairs(Peter%2520Webster).htm+%22larry+collins%22+half+baked&hl=en
The original article referred to follows:

Subject: Reinarman & Cohen, et al. in Foreign Affairs
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 14:53:05 -0500

       Copyright 1999 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.
                Foreign Affairs

            November, 1999 / December, 1999

SECTION: REVIEWS; Responses; Pg. 134

HEADLINE: Dazed and Confused;
Smoke and Mirrors over Dutch Drug Policy;
Sober Up

BYLINE: JORIS VOS; JORIS VOS is Ambassador of the Netherlands to the United

Informed debate and analysis require reliable data and information, so I
was disappointed to read Larry Collins' biased, unbalanced, and highly
anecdotal article on Dutch drug policy ("Holland's Half-Baked Drug
Experiment," May/June 1999). Not only does Collins not compare different
types of drug policies and their outcomes, he makes many factual errors.
To name a few:

The increase in cannabis use that Collins cites is also present in other
European countries, so factors other than Dutch drug policy are obviously
relevant. Cannabis use in the United States, for example, is much higher
than in the Netherlands.

Collins' assertion that the Netherlands has twice as many heroin addicts as
the United Kingdom is wrong. They have comparable rates of heroin use.

Also incorrect is Collins' statement that the percentage of THC (the
substance that gives a pot-smoker a high) in the Dutch-grown marijuana
known as Nederwiet is as high as 35 percent. The actual figure is 8
percent -- only around 1 percent higher than that of foreign marijuana.

Collins reports an increase in cannabis use among youth in major Dutch
cities, from which he infers that the "skyrocketing" rise (for which no
figures are provided) in violent crime in those cities is due to increased
cannabis use. But it has been scientifically established that cannabis does
not evoke aggression, making Collins' linking of both (possibly untrue)
observations highly questionable.

The description of slums in Rotterdam and Amsterdam should have included a
comparison with such areas in other countries. Although some problems do
exist in these places, they pale in comparison to those in the major cities
of the Western world.

The drug policy of the Netherlands has evolved over the years with the
consent of the Dutch people, who are, for the most part, satisfied with the
results. Although our approach may differ from other countries', our goals
are the same: reducing drug use and the harm it causes both the user and
society. Any sober analysis of Dutch drug policy will reveal both some
impressive results and some areas that require more aggressive action.
Collins' article was not intended to further serious, responsible debate;
it was a simplistic polemic about a problem that surely deserves more
informed and factual treatment.

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Comment #7 posted by Jose Melendez on February 24, 2002 at 06:36:13 PT:

trth is infectious
from: US study suggests less people progressed to hard drugs than predicted earlier from marijuana use, AJPH 91 (2001), 225-32.A US federal judge has approved the distribution of medical marijuana from a club for medical purposes, BMJ 321 (2000), 261. Australia is funding drug control but not tobacco control, MJA 172 (2000), 612-3.The US is making research marijuana more accessible, NatMed 5 (1998), 721. A US report has recommended the use of marijuana for some pain control, but this has been rejected, Lancet 353 (1999), A discussion of marijuana as medicine is in SA (August 1998), 18-9. It may alter cognitive functioning, NS (11 July 1998), 52; yet also protect the brain from damage after strokes, NS (11 July 1998), 16.A US study suggests less people progressed to hard drugs than predicted earlier from marijuana use, AJPH 91 (2001), 225-32.
An NIH panel has concluded more study is needed to assess marijuana in medicine, JAMA 277 (1997), 867-8; Lancet 349 (1997), 624; NS (15 March 1997), 14-5. Letters on cocaine are in JAMA 277 (1997), 457-8. On herbal medicines, Lancet 349 (1997), 812; JAMA 277 (1997), 776. Fluoxetine is a contested drug for mental disorders, Lancet 349 (1997), 888. Drug treatments for dementia also raise ethical problems, BMJ 314 (1997), 693-4. Aspirin has been officially recognized as a preventative agent for heart attacks by the FDA, JAMA 277 (1997), 701. The transfer of drugs to developing countries is discussed in Hogerzeil, HV et al. "Guidelines for drug donations", BMJ 314 (1997), 737-40; and on some cases of false labels causing death, NS (29 March 1997), 16-7.Medical marijuana is debated in NEJM 336 (1997), 1184-7; AJPH 87 (1997), 585-90. Pipe and cigar smokers have greater risk of lung cancer than life-long non-smokers, BMJ 314 (1997), 1860-3. On the method of addiction, NS (5 July 1997), 4; Nursing Research 46 (1997), 155+; JAMA 278 (1997), 339-40. Marijuana may be harder than thought, Science 276 (1997), 1967-8. A call for more research on medical marijuana has been made by a NIH panel, JAMA 278 (1997), 802; NEJM 337 (1997), 435-9; whereas Dutch coffee shops are providing it at cost price, BMJ 315 (1997), 504. The NIH has funded a marijuana study, Science 278 (1997), 211; and a book review is Science 278 (1997), 75. There are calls to legalize use of marijuana for medical purposes in Canada, CMAJ 158 (1998), 373-6; and book reviews of the subject, BMJ 316 (1998), 239; Lancet 350 (1997), 1828. The research into medical use of marijuana in the UK will be increased, BMJ 316 (1998), 1034-5, 1335; but WHO does not want to be involved, NS (21 Feb. 1998), 3-4, 24-31. There have been recent increases in student marijuana use in USA, AJPH 88 (1998), 887-92. Several papers on the ethics and law of drug abuse are JLME 22 (1994), 197-256. The issue of legalising marijuana for pain relief is also discussed in BMJ 309 (1994), 1532-3, and it is legal in ACT, Australia. A UK survey has found a great increase in people's knowledge of illicit drugs in the last 5 years, BMJ 310 (1995), 20-4. Confirmation of the role of mild alcohol use in reducing heart disease is BMJ 312 (1996), 731-6, 736-41; and on alcoholism, JAMA 275 (1996), 803-4; Lancet 347 (1996), 545-6; MJA 164 (1996), 133-4, 141-5. There will be stricter control on soft drugs in the Netherlands, Lancet 347 (1996), 895; to control harder drugs, also see BMJ 312 (1996), 635-7. Heavy marijuana use appears to impair brain function, JAMA 275 (1996), 521-7, 560-1. Drug testing is being made tougher in the 1996 Olympic Games, but it is still difficult to detect all, JAMA 275 (1996), 348-50.The receptor for morphine has been shown to be the u-opioid receptor, Nature 383 (1996), 759-60, 819-23; as may be the cocaine receptor, Zubieta, JK. et al. "Increased mu opioid receptor binding detected by PET in cocaine-dependent men is associated with cocaine-craving", Nature Medicine 2 (1996), 1225-9. There are differences between men and women, Nature Medicine 2 (1996), 1184-5, 1248-50. California and Arizona voted to approve marijuana therapy for pain relief, Nature 384 (1996), 95. A study of alcohol and drug use among US welfare recipients is AJPH 86 (1996), 1450-4. 
A review on the ethics is Barnes, RE. "Reefer madness: Legal and moral issues surrounding the medical prescription of marijuana", Bioethics 14 (2000), 16-41. Illegal drugs are discussed in BMJ 320 (2000), 656, 886-7; Lancet 355 (2000), 585; JAMA 283 (2000), 1303-10, 1887; MJA 172 (2000), 284-6; AJPH 90 (2000), 335-7. A possible link between underage drunk driving and later violent crime is discussed in Lancet 355 (2000), 933. A review of alcohol problems is Frank, JW. Et al. "Historical and cultural roots of drinking problems among American Indians", AJPH 90 (2000), 344-51. A brain steriod may be the reason why women and men have different consequences and recovery from drinking alcohol, NS (March 2000), 19. Antihistamines may impair driving as much as alcohol, Lancet 355 (2000), 905. On abuse of prescription drugs, JAMA 283 (2000), 1126-7. Abuse of androgens is discussed in MJA 172 (2000), 220-4. Helium has been linked to several strokes, so people should be careful of helium balloons and not inhale it, BMJ 320 (2000), 732.

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Comment #6 posted by goneposthole on February 24, 2002 at 06:31:16 PT

Dutch heroin users
The Dutch have a perfect oppurtunity to round up the heroin users. When a person wants to have a little bit of heroin, he could go to a safe injecting room, and from there taken into custody and placed in a prison. It is a perfect bait to use to get every heroin user into some sort of involuntary confinement.They could give the injecting rooms names like Auschwitz, Dachau...The evidence is incontrovertible. Heroin users are allowed to use heroin, so therefore they can be arrested and placed in prison just by making it illegal.That is what we do here. The evidence is incontrovertible.We just lie about it all of the time.
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Comment #5 posted by Craiggoth on February 24, 2002 at 05:49:05 PT

I am all up for its legalisation...but...
I found this about 10 mins ago whilst trying to find some stuff about how cannabis has affected drug problems in Holland, I suggest that you look at it. I do not know if it is biast or simply lying, or whether its telling the truth, but it is worth seeing. 
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Comment #4 posted by Patrick on February 24, 2002 at 03:00:34 PT

Free the weed, save the planet!

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Comment #3 posted by lookinside on February 24, 2002 at 00:47:12 PT:

Obviously holland is descending into sanity at an accelerating rate. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., an enlightened government is seeking ways to incarcerate or kill a large percentage of the population. I really like the fact that the sick and dying are getting so much help from the DEA. Do you think they will bomb those pesky, criminal infested hospitals next?
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Comment #2 posted by RavingDave on February 24, 2002 at 00:36:10 PT

I shudder to think...
how the U.S. would score in comparison. I don't have my figures handy, but I'm sure we're worse off than Britain in most ways, possibly barring heroin use. (?)Say what you will about Britain, but at least they're considering reversing the trend. We are pedaling backwards on this side of the Atlantic.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 23, 2002 at 21:28:16 PT

How Britain Now Outstrips Holland 
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2002
Copyright: 2002 The Observer
Contact: letters

UK: 60m 
Holland: 16m 
Teenagers who have tried cannabis

UK: 40% 
Holland: 20% 

Teenagers who have tried heroin 

UK: 2%
Holland: under 0.01% 

'Problem' hard drug addicts

UK: 250,000
Holland: 25,000 

Percentage of population robbed in past year

UK: 1.4%

Percentage of population whose car was stolen in past year

UK: 2.6%
Holland: under 0.5% 

Recent (in last month) use of cannabis by 15-year olds

UK: 24%
Holland: 15% 

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