Pubdate: Thu, 16 Sep 2004
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2004 Southam Inc.
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


Re: Enforcing The Law In 'Vansterdam,' Susan Martinuk, Sept. 14.

Contrary to Susan Martinuk's selective review of the evidence, the
effects of cannabis decriminalization are well documented. Teen usage
rates in the dozen U.S. states that have decriminalized cannabis
remain the same or below rates in states that have maintained criminal

Similarly, Australian jurisdictions that decriminalized cannabis over
a decade ago have witnessed no corresponding increase in teen use.
Teen usage rates in the Netherlands, where adults may purchase and
consume cannabis in "coffee shops," remain below usage rates here in
North America.

Ms. Martinuk concluded that "the law asserts the message that
marijuana use doesn't benefit anyone or any society." Leaving aside
the proven therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, several studies have
confirmed that cannabis, alcohol and other psychotropic substances are
economic substitutes with cross-price elasticities. When cannabis use
goes up, alcohol and other "hard" drug use goes down, resulting in a
net decrease in fetal alcohol syndrome, traffic accidents, addiction,
disease, violence, crime, overdose deaths and medical

Matthew M. Elrod, Victoria. 
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