Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Propaganda Files - The Netherlands

Enough Lies: The Netherlands Drug Policy Does Work
FACT: Compared to the Netherlands, which allows purchase and possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults, the United States had double the rate of marijuana use overall, with nearly three times as many youths trying marijuana by age 15.
-Marijuana Policy Project 2008
I have just read another article explaining why cannabis legalisation won’t work. And their proof ... The Netherlands. Prohibitionists and moral crusaders portray The Netherlands, especially Amsterdam as some sort of amoral hell where the streets are lined with prostitutes and everyone has to step over strung out junkies in the gutter. A demised nation lost in a selfish orgy of forbidden flesh and rampant drug use. Jeepers, even I wouldn’t go there.

Organisation: Various
Campaign: The Netherlands Drug Policy / Cannabis “Coffee Shops”
When: 1976 -

Propaganda: 9/10
Laugh Out Loud Rating: 7/10

... However, I have lived in the Netherlands for a five-year period. And frankly, I don’t want to see what takes place there happening here. The city of Amsterdam is awash with drugs and crime. Indeed, drug-related crime is four times the rate of the US. You can’t walk down a street of central Amsterdam without being accosted by drug pushers and addicts. I lost count of how many times our push bikes were stolen by the druggies to help support their habits. I don’t want that cesspool of crime, drugs and violence to be replicated here.
-Bill Muehlenberg: CultureWatch

This is of course so far from the truth, it only incites humour in those who aren’t ignorant or are well travelled. The Netherlands is actual conservative compared to other western countries and has some amazing countryside including the beautiful city of Amsterdam. The lifestyle is uniquely European which might be a tad confronting for those used to massive shopping malls and other US influenced cityscapes. Yes, there are druggies, prostitutes and other public inconveniences that the non European drug warriors like to focus on but there needs to be some perspective. Compared to the large US slums, Vancouver's downtown east side or Kings Cross on a Saturday night, Amsterdam is a like a walk through a flowery suburb of the North Shore of Sydney. I remember reading about a journalist looking for crack cocaine in Amsterdam where it took him 35 minutes to find with the help of a local addict. He was only able to find one dealer of any drug and he had to get it from someone else. The same task would take 5 minutes in any major US city. The journalist reported that he encountered no junkies lying in gutters but instead was entertained by a local church music ensemble. What struck him most was how clean and family orientated the streets were compared to his experience back in the USA.
You can't walk down the street in Amsterdam without tripping over junkies
-US Drug Czar

I've visited their parks. Their children walk around like zombies
-Lee Brown - Head of the US Office for National Drug Control Policy

Bill O'Reilly - The Poster Boy for Anti-Drug Conservatives
Fox News monkey-man, Bill O’Reilly is joined by a fellow Fox News monkey-woman and some GOP strategist for what must be the most ludicrous description of The Netherlands ever seen on T.V. The story is actually about how the radical left have exploded since Barrack Obama became president of the USA but The Netherlands are put on display as what can happen if conservatives values are overlooked for liberal freedoms. I must point out to any extreme right wing nutters reading this that the perceived image of The Netherlands portrayed by the 3 casuistic hosts is laughable.

Click here for a quick rebuttal of Fox’s claims.

Anne Bressington
Anne Bressington once claimed that the term, "War on Drugs" was coined by the legalisation movement to get people on their side. So you can only imagine what she has said about The Netherlands. Here are some of her gems:
In 1993 the National Intelligence Report (AFP) stated that the streets had been flooded with a new hybrid of cannabis known as “mad weed”. It was called madweed because in Europe it was responsible for psychotic episodes even after one time use. It originated in the Netherlands and the THC content tested as high as 30%.
-Anne Bressington Media Release(Dec. 2006) - Adelaide Is “Cannabis Capital Of The World”
We are like the Netherlands, she says; we may not have cannabis cafes but if you know the right places all you have to do is ask. “I did a tour of Hutt Street this morning,” she said. “I saw people shooting up next to a charity drop-in centre, they score, go into an abandoned paddock next door and they’re all sitting around shooting up. I was told if I wanted drugs to go to the compound, the Caltex station in Hutt Street at 10 a.m. but be there a bit early because its pension day so there will be a bit of a line-up. It’s frightening.”
-Penelope Debelle - "Accidental” MP Finds Her Feet (Article about Anne Bressington) (2004)
What is it that politicians and some doctors do not understand about drug policy? In Sweden where drug use is one third of other European countries and where less than 2% of their youth use drugs like cannabis and amphetamines we could look to them for solutions. Instead we continue to replicate the Netherlands policies that have failed dismally.
-Anne Bressington Media Release(Dec. 2006) - Politicians At Raves & Doctors Giving Up On Drug Abuse
Very soon we are going to hear Dr Caldicott and his crew go ‘We must look to the Netherlands for our drug policy’ because we have even outstripped the Netherlands. We have doubled the Netherlands’ drug use in this country. Who would have ever thought? Do not be fooled by the Netherlands having half the drug use that we have because it has an almost legalised, decriminalised system. It is because in this country we have gone to sleep at the wheel. We have taken our eye off the ball and we have allowed this problem to disintegrate to a point where our children’s lives and our grandchildren’s lives are affected and it is not going to get better if we do not change what we do.

Dr Caldicott himself has admitted that one of the costs of having harm minimisation in this country is that we will have more people using drugs, but best to have them using drugs and keeping them alive than having them die in the gutter. Now, I do not quite get the logic.
-Anne Bressington: House Of Representatives Standing Committee On Family And Human Services - Impact Of Illicit Drug Use On Families (May 2007)

Maybe Anne Bressington should spend more time researching her claims.
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%),
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.
-CBS News (July 2008)

Closing The Coffee Shops
When the media started reporting that The Dutch were closing some coffee shops, the anti-drug warriors went berserk. This was the great news they had been waiting for. After having to lie for nearly 30 years, they finally had some proof that The Dutch experiment had failed.
We’ve been even doing work with the Dutch, who are usually thought of as the opposite side of us on marijuana or cannabis, where they are talking about higher potency causing acute health problems that they are seeing in the Netherlands. So they too now have been taking steps to reduce the number of coffee houses, to treat the especially higher potency cannabis almost as a different drug in their system.
-US Drug Czar, John Walters

The fact is that coffee shops are being closed down because of “drug tourism” from neighbouring countries and because of new laws that restrict coffee shops being too close to schools. It was mainly the border towns and cities that wanted to close up the coffee shops, usually under pressure from other countries. Interestingly, some people couldn’t wait for the news and made claims The Dutch were “winding back” their drug laws 10 years prior.
If the Netherlands is winding back its drug laws, does that not tell us something? Does it not tell us that the Netherlands has conceded that it got it wrong. It is now trying to regroup from the previous untenable position. It is now trying to counter the cancer it released into the community in the best way it can by winding back the previously very liberal drug laws.
-The Hon. M. J. Gallacher - NSW Parliament (1997)

Cannabis is illegal in The Netherlands but the Dutch Ministry of Justice applies a gedoogbeleid (tolerance policy) which is an official set of rules guiding the judicial system to how offenders should be dealt with legally. This allows cannabis to be sold via designated “coffee shops”, the personal possession of up to 5 grams and the growing of 5 plants or less. This loophole is necessary to get around the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of which they are a co-signer. To implement any drug policy or law, countries must work within the UN’s strict guidelines. For example, Australia’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre(MSIC) and the heroin assisted treatment (HAT) programs in some countries contravene UN drug policy so they are declared as medical research, which is allowed. Similarly with The Netherlands - cannabis remains illegal but they choose to be tolerant under certain conditions. These strict conditions include age restrictions, quantity limitations and quality control. Hard drugs are not tolerated.

Although marijuana sales are regulated and taxed in the Netherlands' famous coffee shops under Dutch "pragmatism" policies, the sale or manufacture of marijuana officially remains a crime under Dutch law. The current conservative Dutch national government has attempted to shut down the coffee shops, but without popular support for such a move has had to settle for tightening regulations on the marijuana outlets and gradually reducing their numbers.
-Drug War Chronicle

Although certain conservative groups want to remove the Dutch coffee shops, there is still overwhelming support from the public, the police and politicians. What we don’t hear about is the growing support to legalise cannabis ... even when half of the countries' judges support it.
THE HAGUE, 08/10/08 - Over half the magistrates in the Netherlands consider cannabis should be legalised. So reports Vrij Nederland weekly, following a survey among the judiciary.
-NIS News Service - Dutch Judges: Legalise Cannabis (October 2008)

It seems the only people opposed to the Dutch coffee shops are a small group in the Netherlands and countries that have dismal results from applying the very drug policies they are trying to push on the Dutch.

UN Tweak Drug Statistics And Facts
By Marten Blankesteijn

The United Nations manipulate statistics to suggest that the liberal Dutch drug policy doesn’t work. This statement comes from Tim Boekhout van Solinge, criminologist at the University Utrecht.
‘It is no coincidence. The UN wants to propagate the idea that things are getting out of hand here. This idea is wrong: The Netherlands, on the contrary, are doing very well.’

To substantiate his claim Boekhout van Solinge mentions the 2000 World Drug Report, which stated that The Netherlands harbored the most addicts of all EU members at that time. ‘The UN had reduced the list of 15 to 13 countries by counting the Benelux as one country.

This was a questionable simplification, because by doing so the country with the largest number of addicts (Luxemburg) was added to the country with the smallest number (The Netherlands).

These numbers were not properly linked to total population estimates, instead averages were calculated. That’s how the Benelux ended on top of the list of drug addicted countries. The message for the public was clear: Dutch drug policy is not working.’

The UN are outspoken supporters of the war on drugs, the war against growers, dealers and users that should lead to a drug free world.’ Experts have been clamouring for years that this battle can never be won’, says Boekhout van Solinge. ‘Things are just getting worse.’

In the mean time the UN see Sweden as the lighting example. Since 1977 harsh measures are used in a relentless drug hunt. And this has been a great success – at least, that’s what UN reports say: Sweden has the smallest number of blowers in Europe. But even the Swedish facts are polished to fit the UN message. ‘The reports ‘forget’ to mention that The Netherlands have fewer addicts. Nor is there any reference to the 8% of Swedish students that sniff glue. That Sweden tops the European list in drug mortalities, is also conveniently omitted. When talking drugs, the UN is not a reliable club. These reports have little to do with science.

There are more international organisations that fumble with opinions and research to justify the war on drugs. Says the criminologist: ‘On a conference of the World Health Organisation on cocaine all experts agreed that an overwhelming majority of cocaine users are in perfect control of their use, which led them to conclude that cocaine wasn’t that much of a problem. This conclusion was never made public under pressure of the American government.’

Another example? ‘A WHO report on cannabis paints a dramatic picture of the drug. But when you examine the documents and research used as a basis for the report, you learn that specific research was conducted to estimate what would happen if cannabis would be used as much as alcohol and tobacco are used.

The remarkable conclusion of this research? Cannabis would still be the least harmful.

But this information was kept from the summary

More from the Propaganda Files

Related Articles:
How Low Can You Go? (The Dutch Disease)
McCaffrey: Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics
Going Dutch

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