Freeport Journal-Standard, IL
I'm writing about Diana Roemer's thoughtful story: “Street trends: The grip of crack cocaine” (8-21-06).
If tough-on-drugs policies worked, the quixotic goal of a drug-free America would have been reached a long time ago.
And if tolerant marijuana policies caused more hard drug use and crime, the Czech Republic would have much higher rates of hard drug use and crime.
They do not.
The Czech Republic is the only country in the world where adult citizens can legally use, purchase, possess and grow small quantities of marijuana. (In the Netherlands, marijuana is quasi-legal - not officially legal.)
The Czech overall drug arrest rate is 1 per 100,000 population (“A Czech Toke on Freedom,” by Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times, Jan. 24, 2006).
The United States' overall drug arrest rate is 585 per 100,000 population (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 2002 final statistics).
The Czech robbery rate is 2 per 100,000 population. The United States' robbery rate is 145.9 per 100,000 population, according to our FBI.
According to our drug-war cheerleaders, tolerant marijuana laws cause people to use other, much more dangerous drugs, like crack cocaine, meth and heroin.
Obviously, this doesn't happen in the Czech Republic. Why not?
Could it be that when people can legally obtain marijuana at an affordable price, they tend not to use or desire any other recreational drugs?
Could it be that marijuana legalization actually creates a roadblock to hard drug use - not a gateway?
Could it be that the vast majority of our so-called “drug-related crime” is caused by our marijuana prohibition policies?