Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jul 1999
Date: 07/06/1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: W. M. Bush

IF THE Netherlands' drug policy has been an abject failure, as Mr
Parrett ("Not for our children, please", Letters, 28 June) and our
Prime Minister declare, let us have more such failures.

The Australian household survey released in March shows that 2.2 per
cent of the population have used heroin. According to the equivalent
Dutch survey released in January the proportion in that country is 0.3
per cent. i.e. Australia's rate is more than seven times greater.

The aim of the Dutch "liberal" policy towards marijuana has been to
break the criminal distribution nexus that makes potentially lethal
drugs like heroin as freely available as marijuana.

Not only does it seem that Dutch policy is succeeding in doing this,
it has even led to a far lower marijuana usage rate than Australia.
The same surveys reveal an "ever used" rate of 39.3 per cent in
Australia, more than twice as much as the Dutch rate of 15.6 per cent.

Evidence of Dutch success does not end there. Of the 15.6 per cent who
may have tried marijuana in a Dutch coffee shop (or elsewhere) only a
small proportion continues to use: the rate of those who have used in
the last 12 months is 4.5 per cent in the Netherlands, a quarter of
the 17.6 per cent in Australia. Moreover, the Australian survey shows
a rapid rise in drug use here that is not evident in the

Mr Parrett also asserts that Dutch cannabis has a THC content of 30
per cent more than the content in 1976. He cannot have read that the
National Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre has recently released a
study that showed this was a furphy.