Pubdate: Sun, 27 Jun 1999
Date: 06/27/1999
Source: Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
Author: Albert J. A. M. Nooij

In your editorial (ST 20/6) on the Cafe Amsterdam you suggest
Holland's policy of making a distinction between soft and hard drugs
has failed and that the fight against hard drugs has been given up.

Nothing is further from the truth. Heroin use in the Netherlands, as a
proportion of the over 14 population who have ever tried it, is 0.3
per cent. This is a very modest figure compared to countries such as
the US and Australia. Even more importantly, recent statistics show
the population of hard drug users is rather stable and rapidly ageing.
In other words, few new users are joining in.

Our policy on cannabis has not led to an increase in the number of
hard-drug users and on the basis of the Dutch experience, the
so-called stepping stone hypothesis cannot be confirmed.

Equally misleading is the impression you try to convey that the Dutch
authorities take a lax attitude toward the trade in hard drugs. On the
contrary, police and customs authorities commit large resources to the
fight against drug trafficking and with satisfying results.

ALBERT J.A.M. NOOIJ, Ambassador of the Netherlands