from the NORML Weekly News, courtesy the NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org
January 7, 1999, Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Americans consume marijuana at rates more than double those of their Dutch counterparts, according to a study published Tuesday by the Center for Drug Research (CEDRO) of the University of Amsterdam.
"These findings illustrate that criminalizing marijuana does little, if anything, to discourage use," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of The NORML Foundation. He noted that Dutch law allows citizens over 18 to buy and consume marijuana in government-regulated coffeeshops.
The study found that 15.6 percent of Dutch persons aged 12 and over had tried marijuana. Of these, 4.5 percent reported using marijuana in the past year, and 2.5 percent said they used the drug during the past month. By contrast, 32.9 percent of Americans admit trying marijuana, and nine percent report using the drug in the past year. Slightly more than five percent of Americans say they use the drug monthly.
The study's authors concluded that "a repressive [marijuana] policy as in the U.S. does not necessarily result in less drug use. The availability of drugs is no determining factor for levels of drug use in a country."
The study, financed by the health ministry and conducted by Amsterdam University and the Central Bureau of Statistics, is the first to document national marijuana use rates.
Data previously compiled by the Dutch National Institute of Health and Addiction (NIHA) determined that Dutch adolescents use marijuana at significantly lower rates than Americans. The agency reported that 21 percent of Dutch adolescents admit trying the drug compared to 45 percent of American high school seniors.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751. To view a summary of the CEDRO report online, please visit http://www.frw.uva.nl/cedro/.