Europe's Liberalized Drug Policy

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, May 10, 2002.

  1. By Robert S. Werner & DeForest Rathbone
    Source: Washington Post

    The May 3 front-page story "Europe Moves Drug War From Prisons to Clinics" failed to show the negative effect of liberalization of drug policies in the countries cited.
    For each of the past three years, Europe has imported and consumed more than 200 tons of Colombian cocaine -- better than double the annual totals before 1999 and the new decriminalization movement. President Bush has stated that Europe is a major importer of heroin from Afghanistan.

    As U.S. consumption of cocaine has decreased by two-thirds in the past two decades, Europe has become the new market. The Netherlands is now the top source of the Ecstasy reaching America's children. So we are paying a price for Europe's "harm reduction."

    Moreover, Britain is not liberalizing its policies. To the contrary, it has reversed the laws legalizing heroin laws during the past decade because its addiction rate quintupled in that period.

    The story twice quoted the EU data coordinator as saying that drugs are widely available in prisons. If that is true, Europe should clean up its prisons. While it is true that the United States must expand drug treatment in the prison population because more than 60 percent of arrestees test positive upon entry, it is a myth that drugs are widespread in U.S. prisons themselves. Only 2 percent to 3 percent of prisoners actually obtain illegal drugs.

    As U.S. drug use is dropping, Europe's is rising. Europe may be headed for the drug and crime disaster we had two decades ago, from which we are emerging as we spread the message about the dangers and enforce the law.



    The writer was director of public affairs for the White House Office of National Drug Policy from May 1995 until August 2001.

    As a May 3 story noted, several European countries are attempting to reduce drug problems by substituting drug treatment instead of punitive measures.

    A similar rationale is in use here as the basis for student drug-testing programs in numerous schools. The concept is that drug abuse by schoolchildren is a health and safety problem that needs to be diagnosed and treated rather than punished as a behavioral infraction.

    The Supreme Court has approved drug testing of student athletes and is considering a case that would allow schools to expand it to all kids in extracurricular activities. Congress and the administration recently enacted the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, " which includes a provision that authorizes and provides federal funding for student drug testing.

    Student drug testing has a great track record in reducing drug use. Schools that test all students sharply reduce drug use. Surveys of non-testing schools show about one-third of their students use drugs on a regular basis. When finally used in schools throughout the nation, health-related student drug testing will do for drug-related tragedies what the Salk vaccine did for polio tragedies -- it will nearly eliminate them.


    Great Falls

    The writer chairs the National Institute of Citizen Anti-Drug Policy, a grassroots organization.

    Source: Washington Post (DC)
    Author: Robert S. Werner & DeForest Rathbone
    Published: Friday, May 10, 2002; Page A36
    Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company

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