Gary Lane

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California’s Pot Proposal: The European Experience


Some Europeans are expressing interest in the outcome of California's controversial Proposition 19 ballot measure Tuesday. If Californians vote to legalize marijuana, it may give a shot in the arm to pro-legalization forces in a number of European nations.

Belgium and Germany have long considered legalizing pot and a California victory would possibly inspire marijuana legalization advocates in Switzerland to try another ballot initiative in that country. Sixty-three percent of Swiss voters rejected a decriminalization proposal two years ago because they did not want their country to become a tourist destination for potheads.

Also, the Swiss wanted to avoid a plethora of relational and legal challenges that would likely ensue with neighboring countries. That's because the drug is illegal throughout Europe.

That's right, even in liberal Amsterdam. While the Dutch city has about 30 cannabis coffee shops (frequented mostly by tourists), marijuana is still illegal in the Netherlands. Dutch authorities have closed about 20 percent of them in recent years, but for the most part, they've allowed the shops to remain open without penalty.

Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese IIII and Charles Stimson, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation recently wrote an opinion column opposing Prop 19. It appeared in newspapers across the country earlier this month.

Here's what they said about the Dutch experience:

Amsterdam shows what happens when marijuana is available, legally and in abundance. Amsterdam is one of Europe's most violent cities, and Dutch officials pin the blame on their liberal drug policies. A report by four government ministries finds that drug-related crime places a heavy burden on local authorities and that criminal organizations are increasingly muscling their way into the drug market, using it as a base for international operations.

As California debates legalization, Dutch officials are retooling their laws and shutting down marijuana dispensaries "to tackle the nuisance associated with them and manage crime risks more effectively."

Legalization hasn't helped the Dutch keep marijuana from minors either. Marijuana use is higher among children there than anywhere else in Europe. Legalization also alters social norms. More Dutch children smoke pot because the social stigma against it has dissipated. The same thing will happen in California if Prop 19 is passed next month.

Click on the player to see a video of cannabis coffee shops in Amsterdam and hear what some people there are saying about the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Friday, October 29, 2010 1:03 PM



Comments on this post

# RE: California’s Pot Proposal: Save Mexico and Money!

We have a larger problem than pot use. Drug money is turning Mexico and its border with the US into a a no-mans land, ruled by 'Criminales', a coalition of 'Federales' and narco-terrorists. No one, not even the lawmen, are safe there.

I'm 56, and I use Advil, drink coffee and beer on a regular basis, so I guess I am a drug user, but I've never smoked marijuana and I never will.

Still I think we should legalize marijuana, here's why:
1- Take Billions of $'s away from the 'Criminales' reducing their power.
2- Save Mexico from itself - So we won't have to invade Mexico with a full scale war to protect the Central and Southwestern USA.
3- Tax it and add Billions of $'s to the US budget!
4 - Reduce the cost of fighting the drug war by many more Billions of dollars
5 - Finally - stop adding to the over 1 million people in US prison on pot charges.

Pot is less harmful than alcohol and it used to be legal in the US. Its time to end the Prohibition on pot, just like we did for booze.

Left by George on Oct 29, 2010 10:56 PM

# RE: California’s Pot Proposal: The European Experience

Instead of "buying" the right to be irresponsible, undisciplined and destructive to human life and society, maintain a strong law for the protection of society as a whole ... our youth and their parents are worth the cost!

Is that not the responsibility of government?
Left by star37 on Nov 01, 2010 4:54 AM

# RE: California’s Pot Proposal: The European Experience

Ed Meese's opinion on a subject is almost reason enough for me to take the opposing position. On one hand medical marijuana use has been "proven" to be helpful in reducing pain. This I could support and vote for, however indiscriminate use should be outlawed. Too much marijuana in some has the same effect as too much alcohol and we have more than enough drivers driving while under the influence. If we could limit the use to purely medicinal purpose i would vote for legalizing marijuana use.
Left by joelang60 on Nov 01, 2010 12:53 PM