Pubdate: Tue, 04 Feb 2003
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Richard Cowan


Dear Editor,

I am puzzled by Troy Landreville's column [It still won't be legal, Jan. 7 
Comment, Langley Advance News].

He begins by saying that "Marijuana advocates who use Holland as a poster 
child of the legalization of the drug probably haven't spent much time in 
Amsterdam's Red Light district at night."

Well, actually, I have, and so have many others, but so what? The Red Light 
District is the oldest section of the city and home to the oldest 
profession, but it is also home to many restaurants, bars, hotels 
(including some very nice ones), and a large number of cannabis "coffee shops."

But it is certainly not typical of the whole city, much less the rest of 
the country, nor is it typical of the Dutch cannabis scene. There are more 
than 800 cannabis coffee shops in Holland, including many in smaller cities 
similar to Langley.

If Mr. Landreville can tear himself away from the Red Light district, he 
might walk a few blocks to Centraal Station and hop a train for the 
15-minute ride to Haarlem, an incredibly beautiful city of 160,000 which is 
home to 16 coffee shops.

During the past several years, the Haarlem police have not had a single 
public disturbance call about these shops, whereas they have had thousands 
of such calls to the city's more numerous bars. This is typical of the 
situation in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, but in Haarlem, away from 
the tourist crowds, he could learn what cannabis legalization would mean 
for Langley.

Mr. Landreville seems to want us to think that all manner of social 
problems, even the "dusty" streets, were caused by cannabis, but in fact, 
Holland has a lower rate of cannabis use, and more importantly, a much 
lower rate of hard drug use than the US, the UK, or Canada.

Of course, one can't learn that or very much else by walking through the 
Red Light district.

On the other hand, one can learn a lot about cannabis prohibition by 
walking down Hastings Street in Vancouver, where kids are offered their 
choice of cannabis, heroin, or cocaine for ten dollars.

The Dutch separated the hard and soft drug markets 25 years ago, and that's 
something that desperately needs to be done in Canada.

As for his question, "Would it also send a message to kids that soft drug 
use is okay?"

Well, does the legality of alcohol use or other adult activities "send a 
message to kids" that these are okay for them? Of course, not. The same 
logic applies.

Richard Cowan
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