Marijuana In Europe

CONSERVATIVE American politicians still take fierce stands against dope,
vowing to lock up more and more users. But much of the world is turning
tolerant, especially regarding marijuana.

The current Time says 45 million Europeans have smoked pot, most of them
violating laws, but hardly anyone is jailed for it nowadays.

"It used to be that Holland was Western Europe's only tokers' paradise,
courtesy of 900 cannabis cafes where adults can legally buy 5 grams of
marijuana or hashish," the report says. "But now, all over the continent,
the weed has won a new level of social acceptance. And where voters lead,
politicians are following, as they ease up on criminality."

The magazine gives this country-by-country rundown:

British law still specifies five years in prison for smoking a joint, but
few are arrested. Police in Brixton adopted a policy of warning users and
confiscating their stashes, but not charging them. A Conservative leader
proposed licensing pot caf=E9s and growers, to take the business away from
racketeers and make pot-puffing "simply boring."

Belgium proposes to let puffers grow their own marijuana, and plans to
cease arrests, unless a user causes a public problem.

"Spain no longer prosecutes users of any recreational drug, including
heroin, as long as they do it privately. ... Spanish drug use has dropped
over the past decade."

Portugal decided to suspend first-time sentences and sent puffers to
treatment. Those who refuse treatment are fined, but not jailed.

Switzerland likewise allows legal pot-growing.

Meanwhile, Canada seems poised to legalize marijuana and line the border
with caf=E9s serving U.S. tourists. Time reports:

"It's already a lucrative export: British Colombia's underground marijuana
industry employs an estimated 150,000 people and earns some $4 billion a
year, sending as much as 95 percent of the output to the United States."

We've always felt that pot is no more harmful than beer, and should be as
legal as beer. Why wreck young people's lives by jailing them, shattering
their families, for a trivial matter?

Right-wing U.S. politicians will continue posing as mighty warriors against
dope - but most of the world is passing them by (except for certain Muslim
lands, where people are beheaded for drug use). We hope the day arrives
when they're seen as fossils.


Newshawk: chip
Pubdate: Tue, 21 Aug 2001
Source: Charleston Gazette (WV)
Copyright: 2001 Charleston Gazette
Contact: letters@wvgazette.com
Website: http://www.wvgazette.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/77
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