Dutch Official Says Holland Not Soft on Drugs

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Mar 2, 2001.

  1. 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@nytimes.com
    Website: http://www.nytimes.com/
    Forum: http://forums.nytimes.com/comment/
  2. 0.5 drug-related deaths per 100,000 .

    Maybe it's just me......but wouldn't it make more sense to say 1 in 200,000.
    I have seen folks who looked half dead ,but really. :) :p :)

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