Pubdate: 6 Jan 1998
Source: Reuters


AMSTERDAM, Jan 6 (Reuters) - The Netherlands has significantly fewer
cannabis users than its reputation as a soft drugs haven might suggest,
according to a study released on Wednesday. 

The study, financed by the health ministry and conducted by Amsterdam
University and the Central Bureau of Statistics, is the first to document
national drugs use. 

It found 15.6 percent of Dutch people aged 12 and over had used or tried
cannabis, versus a U.S. figure of 32.9 percent. 

The Dutch study, published on Tuesday and which spanned 1997 and early
1998, determined 2.5 percent of those aged 12 and over had used cannabis
within the last month. 

"(This) amounts to some 323,000 people, and is thus significantly lower
than the estimate of 675,000 used by the (Dutch) government," the study said. 

In contrast, U.S. National Household Survey data for 1997 compiled by the
Washington-based Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMHSA) determined 5.1 percent of Americans were recent cannabis users. 

"The figures show that a repressive drugs policy, as implemented in the
U.S., does not necessarily reduce drugs use," the Dutch study said. "(Ease
of) availibility is not a determining factor for the use of drugs in a

The findings run counter to remarks made by U.S. drugs policy adviser
General Barry McCaffrey, who last summer sparked a diplomatic spat when he
said Dutch leniency on soft drugs use had led to an explosion in the jail
population and a sharp rise in the number of users. 

By contrast the United States' hard line on drugs had cut abuse rates in
America by 50 percent, McCaffrey said 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake