Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sign of the Times

Amsterdam, Netherlands—if you can't beat 'em ... joint 'em? The City of Amsterdam has begun selling recently introduced "no toking" signs to prevent the official ones from being stolen as collector's items, a spokesman said Friday.


Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police don't bother prosecuting possession of small amounts. It is openly sold in designated cafes known euphemistically as "coffee shops." But people who smoke marijuana outside in De Baarsjes risk a euro50 (US$60) fine.

What?!...the “police don't bother prosecuting possession of small amounts”? If that’s the case, then Amsterdam must be inundated with "pot heads"…right? Well, the facts tell a different story:
The [U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency] points out that from 1984 to 1996, marijuana use doubled among 18- to 25-year-olds in Holland. What it doesn't say is that marijuana use in the Netherlands has been stable since then, and it remains lower than in the United States, which has seen use rise from a low in 1992.

Indeed, 30 years after the Netherlands began allowing open marijuana sales, only about 3 percent of the Dutch population — or 408,000 people — use marijuana in a given year, compared with 8.6 percent — or 25.5 million — of Americans, according to the most authoritative surveys by both governments.
Don’t misunderstand my view; I’m not as much pro-pot, per se...I'm just pro-individual liberty. To get a better sense of what I think about the War on Drugs, read this.