Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

With the World's Highest Drug Use Rates, Our Fraudulent Drug Policy is Fully Exposed

Posted in:
What could more conclusively demonstrate the embarrassing failure of our drug war than this?

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. [CBSNews]

As Jacob Sullum points out:

…it's striking that the lifetime marijuana use rate in the U.S. (42.4 percent) is more than twice as high as the rate in the Netherlands (19.8 percent), despite the latter country's famously (or notoriously, depending on your perspective) tolerant cannabis policies. The difference for lifetime cocaine use is even bigger: The U.S. rate (16.2 percent) is eight times the Dutch rate (1.9 percet).

The Drug Czar's kneejerk description of Dutch drug policy as a raging trainwreck is thoroughly annihilated for everyone to see, and there's really just nothing else to say about it. Other countries are achieving much more desirable outcomes without incurring the massive social and fiscal costs of our towering war on drugs. Admittedly, Americans may possess a unique predisposition to enjoy these substances, but that's exactly the point; the more drugs we use, the greater the consequences if our policy towards drug use utterly sucks.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Prohibition is the Crime

That which is forbidden becomes at once more interesting and more desireable. That which is allowed becomes less interesting and less alluring. What's hard to understand about that?

That which is forbidden must be engaged in surreptitiously and with much risk. The greater the risk the greater the protection that must be employed. Thus violence ensues where none would otherwise arise.

Prohibition is the crime. Deaths on both sides of the street, incarceration, ruined lives and wasted treasure are the costs to society. There are no benefits, only costs.

Did we not learn this lesson decades ago with alcohol? Why are we so stupid? Why is America so stupid? What ever happened to the Land of the Free? Will we ever wake up as a nation?

Congressional hearings

We have congressional hearings about all kinds of things -- cheating with video tapes in the NFL, outing CIA operatives, possible oil/gas price gouging and on and on. So with the WHO report in mind, shouldn't a congressional hearing be called to discuss the findings of the report? Shouldn't the ONDCP, DEA, and a few other "well meaning agencies" be called to testify as to the efficacy -- or lack thereof -- of America's failed drug policies? I realize these are often just trumped up dog and pony shows, but shouldn't SOMEONE be called to the carpet? OK, so the list of testifiers with no good explanations would be long and go back 35 years...

Still, it should be done.

We have been having senate hearings

Chaired by Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Most folks. One hearing last fall explored the cost and cost effectiveness of America's prison industrial complex. The other just last month was on the economics of prohibition.

I thought the witnesses in the second hearing were a disappointment but Webb is trying and we should support him for it.

The drug war policy will not change until WE hold the major candidates feet to the fire.

Are transcripts available?

Are transcripts available? Were any conclusions drawn? Any action items suggested? Do "they" plan to meet again? Do these hearings actually mean anything? I ask the last question because plenty of hearings take place, and then -- nothing. The WHO report begs for a whole new round of hearings on the topic of domestic drug policy.

Not meaning to be too cynical. I certainly support Webb. I'm worried that some of these "hearings" are just something to do between votes -- lip service if you will. I believe in Webb's sincerity. It's his colleagues I worry about...

Wake up people, the

Wake up people, the Congressmen and Senators of this country DON'T CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT OR THINK. They have already been given their Marching Orders, and Your Wants, Needs, or Dislikes DON'T MATTER to them.

Yes there are a few good ones, but the Ones that have SOLD US OUT Far Outweighs the number who really care about the people they represent.

BIG MONEY is the Number One Goal of becoming a Political Person Today, and the Citizens are just there to provide a source of supply.

I heard that...

the new House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee, chaired by Kucinich, would have hearings on the tyranny known as ONDCP.When...?


In an effort to become a legitimate national candidate this spring Kucinich made the inevitable Democrat run to the right. He has held no hearings and he has openly said that he would not legalize.

Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia has been heroic in his efforts to get at the core economic and social justice issues of the war on drugs. And do so in senate hearings.

Drug war

The drug war has been going on for decades and the outcome has been spending money and spending more money for there incarceration. has the government gone blind? They need to take a different approach and know and understand the drug habits and drug system. Learn don't try to attack the problem with a spear head attack it from the roots and actually understand the people and why they use drugs.


So what, we should make rape, assault, robbery and murder legal as well? Because that will make it less desirable???

borden's picture


That's silly. Of course we're not going to make any of those things legal. There's no comparison.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School