Pubdate: Sat, 11 Aug 2001
Source: Olympian, The (WA)
Copyright: 2001 The Olympian
Author: Darien Brown
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Dear Sir :

The American press is largely ignoring some recent dramatic changes in drug
policy occurring in certain European countries.

In particular, recently both Belgium and Portugal have effectively
decriminalized personal use of marijuana (Portugal actually has extended the
exemption to personal use of all formerly illegal drugs).

In London police decided to stop wasting time arresting marijuana offenders
in the Brixton area for six months in order to focus their resources on hard

By now,  all but 4 of Western European countries (Sweden, Finland, Greece
and France) have effectively eliminated prison sentences for personal
possession or use of marijuana.

Much of this is a recognition that Holland, despite its flamboyant policy of
allowing use of marijuana in -- coffee shops --, has succeeded in separating
soft drugs (cannabis) from the hard drugs. As a result, the average age of
heroin addicts is rising continuously and is around 36 years of age instead
of in the twenties. Less than 2% of heroin addicts are under 20 years old,
meaning that younger users are not entering the ranks of heroin addicts.

This message has not been lost on European countries. We should follow suit
and quit wasting our resources on criminal penalties for personal
use/possession of marijuana for adults.


Darien Brown, Olympia
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