Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jul 1998
Source: Washington Times 
Postal: 3600 New York Ave. NE Washington, D.C.  20002
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In a July 15 article, "McCaffrey takes his charge to officials in
Netherlands," you repeat statements and information about the Netherlands'
drug policy made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. I am
disturbed that you made no attempt to verify this material after being
confronted with concrete information to the contrary.

When your reporter called this embassy to investigate the story, he was
given detailed information countering the charges about Dutch drug policy.
He was told clearly and plainly that the homicide rate in the Netherlands
was 1.8 per 100,000 (273 homicides in 1996), which is one-fifth that of the
U.S. rate of 8.22 per 100,000.

He also was told that the incidence of cannabis use in the Netherlands was
4.6 percent of the total population vs. 6 percent in the United States and
that the incidence of youth drug use in the Netherlands was almost 50
percent less than in the United States in recent years. In fact, U.S.
government data show that in 1995, almost 50 percent of high school seniors
had tried an illegal substance, which is much higher than the 30.2 percent
attributed to the Netherlands.

We also explained our strong belief that most of the other claims made by
Gen. McCaffrey's office regarding Dutch drug policy were based on an
incorrect reading of the data, or simply incorrect data, and our belief that
a responsible examination of the facts would put this odd, puzzling
controversy to rest.

The Netherlands and the United States have, in some respects, different
approaches to domestic drug control policy. However, our goals in reducing
the harmful costs to society of illegal drug use are the same, and our two
countries have a close, constructive, cooperative relationship in this field.

Joris Vos Ambassador Royal Netherlands Embassy Washington

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett