According to the United Nations, 5.2 percent of Dutch 12 and older had used marijuana or hashish in the past year -- less than half the 12.3 percent rate in the United States.
So few Dutch youth are trying heroin that the average age of new addicts in the Netherlands has risen to 33. Cocaine use also is significantly less than in the United States.
"The separation of hard and soft drugs has helped keep people out of the drugs that really marginalize you from society," says Janhuib Blans of Jellinek, a Dutch organization that runs drug prevention, counseling and treatment programs.
Despite the statistics, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, President Clinton's drug czar, called the Netherlands' drug policy "an unmitigated disaster."
Article in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times
I've been to Amsterdam. I've been in those coffee shops. And you know what? I didn't smoke up a jay. But I will observe that marijuana, magic mushrooms and prostitution are all legal in Amsterdam and it is one of the most civilized cities I've ever been in.
I've never felt safer, not even in Montreal. The streets aren't cleaner, not even in Toronto. Crowds of Czech soccer fans dressed in red were energetically not getting in fights with crowds of Netherlands soccer fans dressed in Orange.
I liked Amsterdam.
Here in Canada, of course, we've legalized gay marriage, and do you know what? Civilization has not collapsed. (Marriage has
collapsed in Quebec, but that happened about 20 years ago, when people decided they didn't need the formality. Now we have the most amicable divorces anywhere. People break up, and make a point of living on the same street as each other so the kids can walk back and forth.)
Food for thought.
Oh, and Canada has a budget surplus.
I think there are other statistics from that area of the world that that need to be addressed as well:
Fewer sexually transmitted diseases.
Fewer unwed mothers.
Not certain about sexual molestations per capita, nor the state of welfare.
I spent three days in Amsterdam, but had caught a cold on the night train from Milan ("Night train from Milan" just sounds so cool:), so I walked around that town, very sick, unable to enjoy the cafes even if I could.
I'm a staunch anti-drug supporter and have broken off friendships with people I've known -- or thought I knew -- for years, after learning that they like to do a little recreational coke, hash, weed, ecstasy or heroin on the weekends.
Narcotics are for weak-minded and weak-spirited losers who are unable to gain happiness and satisfaction from the joy of just being alive and surrounded by friends, family, love...all the important things. Instead, they dope themselves up, thus creating an artificial environment that exists only in their heads. A place where they feel happy, secure, confident...
I had a Dutch boyfriend for 3 years and spent a lot of time there. I know these statistics. Also interesting - they lose their virginity at a later age than American teenagers and their teen pregnancy rate is one of the lowest in the western world.
Just goes to show if you don't make an activity taboo...
Not to mention the Dutch countryside is beautiful and the people are super-nice.
A recreational heroin user...that's a first for me.
Amsterdam and Montreal are two of the most civilised cities I've been in, and where I've felt safest at night, travelling alone. I think the Dutch approach has a lot going for it.
Kelly: When you talk about being anti-drug, does that include being anti-Wine and anti-anandamide (an active ingredient in chocolate)?
It seems odd to break off life-long friendships simply because you discovered that they smoked tobacco on the weekend... (You didn't mention tobacco by name, but since it is a 'weed' that kills an awful lot more people than other weeds such as marijuana, I assumed it is the one you meant..)
Personally, though, I agree with the idea that:
Chocolate is for weak-minded and weak-spirited losers who are unable to gain happiness and satisfaction from the joy of just being alive and surrounded by friends, family, love...all the important things.
(PS: I've occasionally eaten chocolate, but avoid it now. I've never smoked any kind of 'weed' though. Maybe I should compromise and start smoking chocolate ...
Kelly: it seems that the Netherlands is better off with letting "weak-minded and weak-spirited losers" doing what they want to do rather than making it illegal.
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