The Danger Of Cracking Down On Drugs

A test case in San Francisco:

Christopher Ingraham holds up the Netherlands as another success story:

Authorities in the Netherlands are warning Amsterdam tourists about heroin masquerading as cocaine, which has already killed several people and sent a number of others to the hospital. The campaign is striking because you’d never see one like it in the U.S.: “You will not be arrested for using drugs in Amsterdam,” the fliers promise. Instead, they give information on how to receive medical assistance and how to keep potential overdose victims alert while waiting for help.

Dutch law distinguishes between “soft drugs,” like marijuana, and “hard” ones, like cocaine and heroin. Possession and use of up to 5 grams of marijuana, and 1 gram of cocaine or heroin, is not subject to penalty. In sharp contrast to the U.S., where drug use has primarily been dealt with as a criminal justice issue (although there’s some evidence this is changing), the Dutch approach emphasizes harm reduction and public health.