Dutch tightening cannabis laws

Holland is often quoted as a model for liberalising cannabis laws and it is a mistaken belief that the drug isn’t restricted there.

It is and those restrictions are about to be tightened:

The Dutch government is reclassifying high-strength cannabis to put it in the same category as hard drugs.

It says the amount of the main active chemical in the drug, THC, has gone up, making it far more potent than a generation ago.

It means the infamous coffee shops of Amsterdam and other cities will be forced to take the popular, high-strength varieties off their shelves, the BBC reports.

Dutch politicians say high-strength cannabis, known as “skunk”, is more dangerous than it was before.

In the future, anything containing more than 15% THC will be treated the same way as hard drugs, such as cocaine and ecstasy.

The move is a big blow to the coffee shops – and means they will have to replace about 80% of their stock with weaker varieties.

Proponents of liberalising cannabis laws here portray it as harmless, or at least relatively so, but as the Dutch have discovered it is much stronger than it used to be and therefore more dangerous.

2 Responses to Dutch tightening cannabis laws

  1. Lindsay says:

    This is the problem. You don’t get it. I, for example, am a proponent of legalising ALL drugs and have never portrayed them as harmless. But the harm that comes from making them illegal may be worse than the harm in using them. That is the proposition you and National are avoiding.

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  2. MacDoctor says:

    libertarians love to suggest that the harm caused by legal drug use is less than the harm caused by enforcement of laws and the illegal markets around drugs. Unfortunately, the evidence that legal drug use is less harmful is flimsy and ignores collateral social costs ( family breakdown and violence, increasing mental illness ) and the gradual erosion of taboos against drugs with the concomitant increase in use (as with alcohol and tobacco). It also ignores the tendency of sellers to make their product stronger (an effect normally attributed to illegality by libertarians and economists)

    The Dutch have found that even the relatively benign drug, cannabis, takes on a nasty edge when the drug concentration is increased. Research is clear that THC in these concentrations produces dangerous psychotic episodes and yet it is still listed on the Lancet’s pretty ( and inaccurate) drug harm graph well below tobacco, whose costs are almost entirely medical and due to long term use.

    It appears obvious to me that we are not yet ready to have the kind of conversation that you envisage, Lindsay, as we do not have data that is uncontaminated by the various agendas. Since there is no disputing the fact that banning a drug after it’s use has become widely accepted (prohibition) Is a pointless waste of time, it seems prudent to me to keep the genie of drug legalization in the bottle and ensure the lid is firmly stoppered.

    This is not to say that there is much to be said for decriminalizing drug use while maintaing severe penalties for supply.

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