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A contentious issue.
Users tend to downplay the negatives and non-users perhaps overstate the problems.
However, the idea that Tescos would soon reduce it to the vulgar does not appear to be the Dutch experience.
It is worthwhile comparing this report/article from 1999 which tends to suggest this is the way forward and would soon become a model for EU legislation -
Then look at how things are in this 2008 report (http://www.braha.org/en/drug-law/1272) which says that TCH has risen to around 20%.
It says(despite being illegal to supply to under 18s):
"...cannabis use among Holland’s 14- and 15-year-old high-school students rose sharply between 1984 and 1996."
"Twenty odd years ago, the Netherlands was comparatively free of international drug-trafficking criminals. Today, Holland has become an illegal drug producing and distributing giant, a devastating threat not only to the Netherlands but across Europe."
It also says:
"Heroin addiction, virtually unknown in the Netherlands prior to the policy change, has escalated, with the number of addicts estimated by the Netherlands’ Institute of Mental Health (called the Trimbos Institute) to be 25,000. An estimated 12,000 addicts are being treated in methadone-maintenance programs."
Now the fact that these reports are separated by 9 years doesn't necessarily mean they represent a changing perspective, its just they were two illustrative reports that came up. For all I know both reports if repeated in both 1999 and 2008 might show both sets of authors unchanged in their attitudes.
But I doubt life would be as simple as you would suggest Disputin.
Nothing ever is.
In the closing sentence the report says:
"...observers are left wondering if the longed-for benefits of legalization were just wishful thinking."
JMW - You expect me to describe life, the universe and everything in one posting??? (No, 42 is not acceptable).
Of course nothing is that simple and in this case the Dutch experience was inevitably corrupted by outside influences. Naturally, given a tolerated base, drugs syndicates from elsewhere were going to come in and fill their boots. The Netherlands' mistake appears to have been not to have taken effective steps to minimise the incentives for cross-border trafficking, like for instance saying "you can import freely, but if we catch you trying to export to a territory where it is illegal we'll hang you" (Whoops, sorry, 'risk a violation of your Human Rights'). Also a policy of summary deportation to the country affected might also have helped. Naturally such an option was not available to a member of the EU.
As well as criminals, numerous foreigners also came to try it out, so it might be interesting to see figures on native vs. foreign indulgers. Nonetheless there doesn't seem to have been a major collapse of society due to drugs use.
Let us not forget either that the Dutch system is one of tolerance, not legalisation. Banned for under-18s, so what did you expect 12-15-year-olds to do. Don't these people have children? To my mind it is a typical case of half-measures preserving the bad without allowing the good points to emerge.
Remember that the British Empire rose to the peak of its power and prestige with half the ruling classes addicted to laudanum and worse. Only when we started to regulate drugs use did we start to go down the tubes. As I said before, government has no business meddling with free people unless it can show clear, unambiguous and immediate harm to third parties. If the natural culls wish to remove themselves from the gene pool by self abuse, that is a positive benefit for the rest of us in an overcrowded world. (Pace the Chief Rabbi)
I seem to have understated the matter of the use of death certificate data, so I have added a note.
I understand the practically everybody who does not die immediately from extreme violence or trauma actually dies of heart failure. We go on being seriously ill until the heart cannot keep beating. So, depending on your point of view, the cause of death could be 'going out without a scarf on', 'influenza', 'pneumonia' or 'heart failure'.
Heinlein once said in a book "In the end all forms of death could be considered 'heart failure'" after a Gestapo type tells the protagonist that the protagonist's elder friend had died of a 'weak' heart.
Book was "Between Planets".
Disputin: "....but what most people tend to skate over is the fact that the criminal gangs only thrive because cocaine is illegal. Were a free market to operate, the likes of Tesco would drive the cost of production so low that there would be no profit in it for any middlemen, let alone drugs "barons"...."
I'm sort of with Disputin on this. Funny really, we just don't learn from Prohibition which was a largely altruistic movement (just like all our banners) unfortunately due to the law of unexpected consequences, making something difficult/expensive to acquire raises the price and gives rise to crime - almost certainly worse than the good intentions of the banners.
As I recall, before all the criminalization, the law regarding drug addicts was that they could obtain their supplies from their doctor as a requirement or palliative for their symptoms and thereby live a "normal" life. Unfortunately after criminalisation we set in train a most appalling situation of global crime and all that follows. Not to mention the addicts turning to crime to get money in order to feed their habits.