No concept is more central to any defense of our oppressive marijuana laws than the argument that use will increase dramatically under legalization. Opposition to marijuana reform rests in its entirety upon the premise that marijuana = bad & more marijuana = more bad.
And yet, there exists a powerfully simple example of how wrong that is. There’s really nothing groundbreaking about this latest data, but I can only assume it’s surprising new information for anyone who thinks legalization is a one-way ticket to oblivion:
Dutch among lowest cannabis users in Europe-report
AMSTERDAM, Nov 5 (Reuters) – The Dutch are among the lowest users of marijuana or cannabis in Europe despite the Netherlands’ well-known tolerance of the drug, according to a regional study published on Thursday. Among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 percent used cannabis, compared with the European average of 6.8 percent, according to an annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, using latest available figures. [Reuters]
When it comes to debating the impact of allowing marijuana sales, there is no data more important, more relevant and more revealing than this. The Dutch people can buy marijuana anytime they want, but a huge majority of them choose not to. All of this serves to illustrate a very simple, yet significant, fact about marijuana that everyone should know: people who don’t want marijuana will not use it no matter how legal and available it is.
The very idea that there exists a vast population of potential marijuana users deterred solely by the drug’s illegal status is just wrong. That’s not how this works. You see, no one respects our marijuana laws. People who enjoy marijuana will overwhelmingly make their own decision about it and the only thing the government can do is literally rip it out of our freedom-loving hands one at a time. We all know how badly that effort has played out.
The bottom line here is that when we debate marijuana policy, we are not weighing competing visions of how much marijuana use is acceptable in our society. The only question to be addressed – the only issue we have control over – is whether it makes moral and practical sense to punish people for marijuana. We don’t get to decide how many people will use it. But it’s our decision how to treat those who do.
By Scott Morgan