Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jun 1998
Source: Evening Post (New Zealand)
Author: David Hadorn
Author's note: The Post's editor, Suzanne Carty, took the rare step of
appending a rejoinder to my letter, which she does to only about a letter a
month or so.  And that's usually to answer a question, not to rebut the
author.  Ms Carty and I have had an ongoing correspondence (including one
meeting) on this topic, which might in part explain her action.  But I can't
help but feel that her rather wanton labeling of me as "pro-marijuana" --
whereas my letter is obviously only anti-prohibition and anti-lies -- is
virtually an invitation to follow up with another letter (which I surely
will).  It'll be a pleasure explaining why SHE is the one who has missed the
point.  DH


By choosing to promote (in the guise of a news story) the latest
sensational anti-drugs book (Drug epidemic on way - book (The Post, May
20), you once again ill-serve our young people.

As informed drug educators know, several major studies have shown that the
sort of rhetorical excesses and exaggerated anti-drug messages contained in
this book actually increase drug use by young people. The Post has
previously been made aware of this research information.

Instead of fueling the fires of teenage curiosity with strident claims that
the sky is falling (which tends to make skeptical teenagers want to rush
outside and look up), society should strive to make cannabis boring 96
something used by (some) parents and other "old people".

This has happened in The Netherlands, where 22 years of normalised cannabis
sales to adults has reduced both cannabis and hard drug use by teenagers to
among the lowest levels in the developed world.

The authors of Drug Precipice wish us to believe that any method of drug
control other than strict prohibition would "make things worse overall".

Like anti-drugs campaigners everywhere, these authors ignore the mountain
of scholarly evidence showing that prohibition is in fact the source -
directly or indirectly - of most of the harms produced by illicit drug use.
This is especially true of cannabis.

Perhaps the Post was correct in thinking that publication of Drug Precipice
was newsworthy.

But the true significance of the story is this: the sort of scare-tactic
anti-drug messages known to increase drug use by children continue to be
tolerated - even promoted - by societies on both sides of the Tasman.

David Hadorn Northland

[Ed's note: Dr Hadorn, who is director of the Drug Policy Forum, is missing
the point.  The Reuters' report from Sydney quoted the views of the authors
who are as entitled to their anti-cannabis views as Dr Hadorn is to his
pro-marijuana stance. - Editor]

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