Netherlands tackles ‘dopey’ drug policy

From Reuters this morning

The Dutch government said it wanted to ban tourists from buying cannabis in “coffee shops”, where hash is on sale legally, as part of a national crackdown on drug use. The Netherlands has one of Europe’s most liberal soft drug policies and its coffee shops are a popular tourist attraction, especially in Amsterdam and border cities near Belgium and Germany.

…Amsterdam, home to 223 coffee shops, is already in the process of closing some in the red light district to tackle criminal activity in the area, and was studying the government proposal.

Marijuana is called ‘dope’ for good reason. Here’s some basic facts (and reasons for not de-criminalising it in NZ):
* According to the American Lung Association, there is 50-70% more cancer-causing material in marijuana smoke than in cigarette smoke. In fact, marijuana smoke contains more than 400 chemicals. Marijuana is more harmful to the lungs than cigarettes.
* Sixty percent of teens in drug treatment centers report marijuana as their #1 addiction.
* Teens and young adults who regularly smoke pot are at risk of developing brain abnormalities.
* Adolescents who smoke pot are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than their non–pot smoking peers. And 60 percent of youngsters who use marijuana before they turn 15 later go on to use cocaine.
* Christchurch School of Medicine found that those who use cannabis before the age of 18 are less likely to succeed academically
* young adults who used marijuana as teens were more likely than those who didn’t to develop schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms, a seven-year Australian study found
* a single joint of cannabis raises the risk of schizophrenia by more than 40 per cent
* A Swedish cohort study showing the 600% increase in schizophrenia rates among cannabis-users under the age of 18, as against their peers who did not use the drug
* A University of Maastricht study confirming anecdotal evidence that cannabis use can treble the risk of mental illness, and confirming that cannabis causes serious psychotic disorders in people with no history of mental illness
* A Karonlinska Institute (Sweden) 15-year longitudinal study of some 50,000 military conscripts that showed that the higher the consumption of cannabis in adolescence, the greater the risk of schizophrenia
* A 15-year study of 1920 Americans which showed the cannabis use increased the rate of major depression by 400%