Pubdate: Tue, 14 May 2002
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Chris Donald
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Dear Editor,

A prohibition drug policy guarantees that drugs are distributed by 
unscrupulous criminals who gladly go after the teen market, and distribute 
heroin and other "hard" drugs to teens as well.

The most recent statistics out of the Netherlands, the UK, the US, and 
Canada show that fully half as many Dutch 15 and 16-year-olds have tried 
cannabis (20%) in their lives as their peers in the UK and the US: 40% for 
both, assuming that US Grade 10 students can be considered 15 and 16 years old.

Satistics from the US and the UK are similar to those found on the website 
of the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse ( for Canadian Grade 
10 students.

The most comprehensive survey on the CCSA site is for Ontario, and it found 
that for the same year (1999), 35% of Ontario Grade 10 students had used 
cannabis in the preceding year, as opposed to 20% of Dutch teens the same 
age having used cannabis in their entire lives.

British Columbia has even higher teen-use rates for cannabis, in fact for 
all other drugs, than Ontario.

Keep in mind that the teens in Holland have far less pressure on them to 
lie about their drug use when surveyed than teens in any English-speaking 

What is even more ridiculous about support for cannabis prohibition is that 
statistics from the same countries show that hundreds of times as many 
teens in the same age group have tried heroin in the US, the UK, and 
Canada, as is the case in Holland.

Simply put, the Dutch have eliminated that cannabis-based drug Black Market 
that exists in every high school in Canada (and any country with cannabis 
prohibition), so Dutch teens are as likely to run into heroin and other 
"hard" drugs while attempting to obtain cannabis as Canadian kids are while 
trying to obtain beer.

Canadian teens have access to cannabis all day, every day, in every high 
school in the country, with far less hassle than Dutch teens, and the same 
Black Market makes all illegal drugs available to them. Without cannabis in 
the Black Market - the Dutch removed it with legal sales to adults - the 
drug Black Market shrinks by over 99%, and as the statistics show, Dutch 
kids simply can't find what's left to buy "hard" drugs.

That is why less than one in a thousand Dutch 15 and 16-year-olds has ever 
tried heroin (less than .01%), whereas 1 in 35 Ontario Grade 8 students has 
tried heroin in the previous year (2.8%). That's right: in 1999, over 280 
times as many 13 and 14-year-olds in Ontario had tried heroin in the 
previous year (per capita) as Dutch 15 and 16-year-olds had tried heroin in 
their entire lives.

The Senate is right: it is time to rethink our drug laws.

Chris Donald, Dartmouth, NS
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