Amsterdam Bound?

If so, and for reasons other than visiting the Anne Frank House or the Rijksmuseum, you may want to cancel your trips.  This week, Dutch courts upheld a government ban on selling marijuana to foreigners, decreeing that the substance may only be sold to Dutch subjects.  Alas.  Poor college juniors travelling to the land of tulips.  I’m sure at least a few of them will make it all the way there only to realize that they’re out of luck, and will have to do the exact same thing that they’d have to do in the US, which is, buying the substance illegally.

I don’t like how the US pursues its drug policy.  I think overt criminalization is detrimental to society, and extraordinarily expensive to boot.  But, having tried outright legalization, the Netherlands, admittedly a far more laid-back place than America, has tried it, and found that at least in terms of the drug tourism that legalization sparked, that didn’t work either.  Like many policy questions, I think that this is one that’s best served by a moderate course.  Let’s not demonize the users and try to lock as many of them as humanly possible up in jail, but at the same time, let’s not go so far as to say that legalization is a good idea and ought to be the only answer.

The best policy is to curb demand, and that means getting people off of drugs.  We’ll never be entirely successful, but that shouldn’t prevent us from pursing a reasonable policy of looking at this as a matter of public health rather than criminal activity.  However, one of the strongest forces in the human psyche is denial, and admitting that your country has a (policy) problem is usually the hardest part on the road to (public) recovery.


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