Tue, 10 Nov 2009 01:06:56 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Say what you will about prohibitionists — and I say plenty — but, if nothing else, they are consistent. Regardless of the circumstances, they stick to their talking points — no matter how instantly refutable their claims may be.
Case in point. CBS News online today ran part one of an ongoing debate between recently retired Orange County, California Judge Jim Gray (who many of you recently watched testify before the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety here) and prohibitionist profiteer David Evans (who was last heard lying about medical marijuana law reform in New Jersey in a debate with NORML’s Chris Goldstein, which may be heard here).
Predictably, early in the CBS News debate Evans cites the Netherlands’ pot policies — which allow for the regulated sale of small amounts of cannabis to citizens age 18 an older — as an argument in favor of maintaining U.S.-style marijuana prohibition. According to Evans, Dutch marijuana use “more than doubled” after liberalization, leading the government to “formally announce its mistake” in 2004.
Hmmm, I guess Mr. Evans must have purposely avoided reading the newspaper last week or else he would have seen this widely disseminated report from Reuters Wire Service, published on Friday.
Dutch among lowest cannabis users in Europe — report via Reuters
The Dutch are among the lowest users of marijuana or cannabis in Europe despite the Netherlands’ well-known tolerance of the drug, according to a regional study published on Thursday. Among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 percent used cannabis, compared with the European average of 6.8 percent, according to an annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, using latest available figures.
… The policy on soft drugs in the Netherlands, one of the most liberal in Europe, allows for the sale of marijuana at “coffee shops”, which the Dutch have allowed to operate for decades, and possession of less than 5 grams (0.18 oz).
Not surprisingly, Evans also failed to cite a World Health Organization report, published last year, which reported:
US leads the world in illegal drug use via CBS News
Despite tough anti-drug laws, a new survey shows the U.S. has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world.
The World Health Organization’s survey of legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries, including the Netherlands and other countries with less stringent drug laws, shows Americans report the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use.
For example, Americans were four times more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next closest country, New Zealand (16% vs. 4%). Marijuana use was more widely reported worldwide, and the U.S. also had the highest rate of use at 42.4% compared with 41.9% of New Zealanders.
In contrast, in the Netherlands, which has more liberal drug policies than the U.S., only 1.9% of people reported cocaine use and 19.8% reported marijuana use.
The WHO report went on to conclude: “The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the U.S., has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in national rates of illegal drug use.”
But Mr. Evans isn’t content to just simply lie about the Dutch. Elsewhere in the debate he falsely implies that the U.K. also experienced a spike in marijuana use after the British government temporarily downgraded its cannabis classification in 2004. (Parliament ended its experiment with decriminalization in 2008, a move that Evans argues was because of “the more lethal quality of the cannabis now available.”) The truth, however, was just the opposite.
Fewer young people using cannabis after reclassification via The Guardian
Cannabis use among young people has fallen significantly since its controversial reclassification in 2004, according to the latest British Crime Survey figures published today.
The Home Office figures showed the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who had used cannabis in the past year fell from 25% when the change in the law was introduced to 21% in 2006/07.
As for anyone who thinks they can stomach reading Mr. Evans lies in part two of the debate, you can do so here .