Dutch Official Says Holland Not Soft on Drugs

Dutch Official Says Holland Not Soft on Drugs
Posted by FoM on March 01, 2001 at 15:39:02 PT
By Reuters Health
Source: New York Times
A Dutch health official Thursday defended his country's progressive drug policies, saying that they have helped the Netherlands keep rates of drug use and HIV infection at relatively low levels.He also denied accusations that the country's acceptance of personal marijuana use means that law enforcement agencies there are soft on international drug traffickers who use Holland as a center for shipping ecstasy and other drugs to the United States.
``The idea that the Netherlands has a tolerant position on drug trade and production is a misconception,'' said Peter Pennekamp, the Netherlands' Undersecretary for Health, Welfare and Sport. ``You have to go after hard drugs as strongly as possible. There should be no misunderstanding about that.''The port at the Dutch city of Rotterdam and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport have both become major way stations for the trans-Atlantic drug trade. Pennekamp said that his government is in the process of stepping up its ecstasy interdiction operations as the drug becomes more and more popular among European and American teenagers.The Netherlands has come under fire in recent years from American customs officials who feel that the country does not do enough to control drug shipments from Europe to the United States.That belief has been fueled in part by Holland's permissive attitude toward some drugs, including marijuana and hashish. Marijuana remains technically illegal in the Netherlands, but national drug policy permits individuals to purchase up to 5 grams of cannabis from authorized retailers.The aim of the policy is not to encourage drug use but to provide a controlled environment so that young people who resist the government's antidrug messages and experiment with marijuana do not have to come into contact with street dealers, Pennekamp said.``Primary prevention alone is often not sufficient,'' he said. The government uses a similar strategy for users of harder drugs, providing clean needles and easy-to-get treatment for heroin addicts.Rates of marijuana use in Holland are about average for Western Europe. About 18% of Dutch people claim to have ever used marijuana, compared to 25% of Britons and 33% of Americans, according to data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs. The Netherlands has the fifth highest rates of cannabis use among European teenagers, with 14% of 5- to 16-year-olds claiming use in the past month.Deaths related to heroin and other ``hard drugs'' remain relatively low in the Netherlands. Holland in 1995 saw 0.5 drug-related deaths per 100,000 population, according to European Union statistics. AIDS rates in Holland in 1998 were among the lowest in Europe at one new case per million persons.Still, the Netherlands continues try to deal with the problem of drug trafficking through its ports. Responding to questions from reporters, Pennekamp said that his country was looking to the United States to control its flourishing drug market.``Any reduction in demand would help us,'' he said. Source: New York Times (NY) Published: March 1, 2001 Address: 229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036 Fax: (212) 556-3622 Contact: letters Website: Forum: Related Articles:For The Dutch, Ecstasy Just The Latest Fad's Smokin' Coffee Shops
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Comment #11 posted by Anonymous on March 04, 2001 at 07:52:37 PT
The Dutch Are Being Vindicated Across Europe
Maybe it has something to do with being around a few thousand years longer than the block-heads here, but the politicians across Europe are finally admitting that the Dutch were right about cannabis, and implementing their own versions of the Dutch Model. Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and soon (in my opinion) Great Britain have all taken steps toward decrim.Trust me, if you've never been to the Netherlands, you don't know how dysfunctional the U.S. is, and how much oppression has affected you. I spent 10 days there a couple of years ago, and it took me 2 full days to realize that a SWAT team was NOT going to burst through the door of the coffeeshop and shoot me. I kept looking over my shoulder, not quite believing what I was seeing and feeling. The feeling, of course, was freedom, and I was dumbfounded to realize that I had to LEAVE the US to experience it.Coming back was like re-entering the gulag, and I haven't felt free since. 
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Comment #10 posted by jAHn on March 02, 2001 at 11:08:21 PT
I felt it too, Dr. Russo!
 Kaptinemo, your experience in the Netherlands sounds like a surrealistic dream. This shouldn't come as no surprise though, seeing as to how we're living in this "kountry" that's been hi-jacked 70 years ago by some Oil Tycoons and Amherst Press and Dupont. These kind of people should get the DAMNED death penalty, if anyone! It's sooo sad. To think, the greatest Journalism couldn't grasp the millions of Unfairness that this country is suffering from at the turn of a new century. The "greatest journalists" names are already predestined to be "the best." They've got plaques made up to commemmorate the "hard-earned" fact. (Fact that they're told to avoid stories.)And, worst of all, a salary that's been supporting them and egging them on to just Go Go Go - shop at Radio Crack, DcMonald's, Trendy's and etc...
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Comment #9 posted by michael on March 02, 2001 at 10:50:30 PT:
----Dutch people----
 The Dutch people were the nicest I have ever encountered. I have a couple of police stories, good ones, that are probably to lengthy to post here, but yes, wonderful country, wonderful people. KICK ASS TIME:-)
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Comment #8 posted by bravobrazilia on March 02, 2001 at 10:50:20 PT
Re: the cops in Holland
Better yet, don't bother hiring a car. The train will get you around holland and your feet will get you around Amsterdam more easily than a car will.
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Comment #7 posted by drfist on March 02, 2001 at 06:41:56 PT
the cops in Holland
one thing I notice about Dutch cops, they are hell on parking tickets! make sure to buy the parking permits from the nearby machines, I got a large parking ticket on my last trip!So in NL cops are far more like traditional police and not drug warriors.
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Comment #6 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on March 02, 2001 at 05:22:09 PT:
Write it up, Kap
Your experiences in the Netherlands would make a nice article for the popular press. Think about it, my friend.
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on March 02, 2001 at 04:59:07 PT:
My own Dutch experience
Many of you long-time readers here already know I've been there, so pardon me if I boor you. But for those who are new here...I'll keep it short and simple.I've been there 4 times. Three of them as a soldier in the late 1980's. The last time as a tourist in the mid 1990's.Needless to say, I had a blast.But I also learned why the Dutch are such an open society. (As opposed to ours, which is ostensibly open.)As a soldier, we stayed on a Dutch military base, ate their food, and were in constant contact with our Dutch hosts, who were absolutely wonderful. From both their military and civilians, everyone went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Remember, this was a time where anti-American feeling amongst much of Europe was very high. Protests against US stationing of nuke-capable cruise missiles were just one of a myriad of ways of saying "Yankee, go home!". But we never had anything but good experiences with every Nederlander we met.I had several opportunities to go out and about, and meet the Dutch people. Showing curiosity about their culture and attempting in my poor way to speak their language opened a lot of doors for me. And gave me an insight into a fascinating people.In many respects, the Dutch are the way they are because of constant exposure to differing cultures; having made their bones as a mercantile nation, they had to accommodate many different ways of doing things. Which necessarily requires an open mind.But a large part of contemporary Dutch practices have to do with having survived fascism. Having had the Nazi jackboot on their throats for 5 years, they have an almost national, cultural mindset against anything that reeks of the intolerance that is the foundation of fascism. So, while many might not like living next to a 'coffeeshop', they like even less the prospect of the kind of authoritarianism that accompanies 'for your own good' repression.Or, as one Rijkspolitie officer told me in 1987: "My father told me stories about what it was like during the Occupation. We will not do that to ourselves."But the US is 'doing it to ourselves' with the DrugWar. We have yet to learn the terrible lesson that much of the world has already learned to its' sorrow: that the Road to Hell is paved with the cobblestones of nations who forgot that lesson. And walking that road is inevitably fatal to the very liberties those who so loudly proclaim they are protecting are in fact stripping us of. Pray we have the good sense to learn from other's time.
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Comment #4 posted by Frank on March 02, 2001 at 04:35:50 PT
The Dutch Police Can Be Trusted Not The American
I would trust the Dutch Police any day over an American Cop. The American Police just want to kill or harm. The Dutch are right in their drug policies. The American Police are lost in the dogma of "The War on Drugs" -- a war against our young people and families. Hats off to the Dutch People and the Dutch Government for their realistic policies.
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Comment #3 posted by Spiderman on March 02, 2001 at 01:26:05 PT
We are all targets
Nah... Holland's response to the propaganda was sweet. "Pennekamp said that his country was looking to the United States to control its flourishing drug market. 'Any reduction in demand would help us,' he said."Ha ha ha! 'Ave it! :) Holland know what they're doing. 
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Comment #2 posted by Imprint on March 02, 2001 at 00:43:04 PT:
They have become a target
Since Holland has become successful in decriminalization, they have become a target for the politicians here in the US. It s a shame that Holland has to respond to the propaganda. I hope they dont buckle under the pressure. 
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Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on March 01, 2001 at 19:07:18 PT
The Bottom Line
The dutch trust their people. Amerika wants to protect us from ourselfs = lack of trust.
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