Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2008
Source: Technician, The (NC State U, NC Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Technician
Author: Kirk Muse


Thanks for publishing Steve Skutnik's outstanding column ("War on 
drugs levies hefty toll," Jan. 9).

Suppose another country had almost no drug problem. Suppose that 
country had less than a small fraction of 1 percent of our drug 
arrests. And suppose that country had almost no "drug-related crime." 
Suppose that their robbery rate was a small percentage of our robbery rate.

Do you think is might be wise to carefully observe that other 
country's drug policy and that we should model their drug policy?

Well, there is such a country: The Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic is the only country in the world where adult 
citizens can legally use, possess and grow small quantities of 
marijuana. (In the Netherlands, marijuana is quasi-legal -- not 
officially legal.)

The Czech overall drug arrest rate is 1 per 100,000 population. The 
United States' overall drug arrest rate is 585 per 100,000 population.

The Czech robbery rate is 2 per 100,000 population. The United 
States' robbery rate is 160.2 per 100,000 population, according to 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In other words, the Czech overall drug arrest rate is 1/585th of our 
drug arrest rate and the Czech robbery rate is less than 1/72nd of 
our robbery rate.

According to our drug-war cheerleaders, tolerant marijuana laws cause 
people to use other, much more dangerous drugs, like methamphetamine 
and heroin. Obviously, this doesn't happen in the Czech Republic.

Could it be that when people can legally obtain marijuana at an 
affordable price, they tend not to use or desire any other 
recreational drugs? Could it be that marijuana legalization actually 
creates a roadblock to hard drug use - not a gateway?

Could it be that the vast majority our so-called "drug-related crime" 
is caused by our marijuana prohibition policies?

Could it be that if we keep doing what we have been doing, we will 
probably get the same results? Should we throw another trillion 
dollars down the drug war rat hole? Or should we do something 
different -- dramatically different?

Kirk Muse

Mesa, Ariz.
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