Source: Survey of German Language Press
Pubdate: 4 Feb 99 
Courtesy: Harald Lerch  
Translator: Pat Dolan
Note: Below are summaries of news items from the German language press,
translated by MAP editor Pat Dolan from items posted to the MAP like list
for Germany.  If any reader would like join the list for Germany please
drop me a note. I will send you a few items from the list, which contains
instructions in German, so you can figure out how to join it. 4 FEB 99 SURVEY OF GERMAN LANGUAGE PRESS

Several papers report positively on the softening of the hitherto CDU hard
line policy on state distribution of heroin to hard core addicts. The
Austrian 'Der Standard' ( is one of several which
give positive reviews of Austrian drug policy as reflected in the Health
Minister's drug report. Minister Lore Hostasch, attributes the reduction in
drug mortalities and other positive aspects of the report to the policy of
emphasizing healing over punishment. 


Joseph Schorn writing in the Salzburger Nachrichten:
(http// comparing Austria's drug pollicies with
those of the US, and some of the other European states, also takes a
forward looking, positive view:

What does every third Austrian have in common with Bill Clinton, and Al
Gore? Answer: they have smoked a joint. That it’s no guarantee of a top job
in politics is well known to the 16,000 Austrians prosecuted since 1997 for
cannabis offenses. In the most honorable way in the world Austrians are
still coming into conflict with the law over what must be the least
dangerous of drugs.

Though the report released by Minister Hostasch is based mainly on
estimates from the ‘drug front’, such estimates are a by-product of the
decades long drug policies practiced by most European states. These are
based on the US enforcement model. Prohibiting and criminalising the
consumption of certain drugs has resulted in driving the commerce and
consumption underground. This makes it impossible to obtain reliable
research figures on drug consumption or the amounts in circulation. 

Consequently, official pronouncements must be taken on faith. A drop in
drug fatalities alone is insufficient to confirm the validity of Austrian
drug policy, whose motto is ‘To help, not to punish’. Not every fatality is
found with a needle dangling from the forearm. Many addicts die after years
of misery from ‘natural causes’, without ever finding their way into the
record of drug fatality statistics. 

We do not need to quarrel about statistics to know that the Austrian model
which gives priority to therapy over punishment is the only reasonable
response to the chaos produced by the current international drug policies.
Rigorous prohibition has led to organized crime becoming a power broker on
the world scene. The Mafia, being the ones who profit the most from it,
would fight to maintain the status quo.

In the European context, Austria sets a middle course: no de facto
legalization of the so-called soft drugs, as in the Netherlands, but also
no knee-jerk Law-and-Order-reflex as in France. Across Europe, but also in
the USA, the long static front lines betray signs of movement. At the end
of this century can be seen glimmering the acknowledgment that there is no
such thing as a drug-free society.

Our prime consideration must be the education of our young people in the
area of right relationships with drugs - legal and illegal; of bringing
help to those who need it, and tackling the problems of addiction with the
most effective treatment methods available. To do that, however, past drug
policy idelogies must be overcome. 


In the Stuttgarter Nachrichten (
Wolfgang Molitor reports on the amendments in the drug laws to be
introduced by Health Minister Andrea Fischer: to provide a legal basis,
firstly, for the much disputed injection rooms, where addicts can safely
inject drugs such as heroin; secondly, for towns to supply hard core
addicts with heroin and other drugs under medical supervision.  

Molitor questions the wisdom of these measures and others such as the
legalization of soft drugs. Ms. Fischer may well 'be taking the second step
before she has taken the first'.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake