A report just published in the journal of the Public Library of Science says more Americans have tried marijuana – as well as cocaine – than people in any of the other 16 countries studied.
That includes the Netherlands – where 20% of the population have tried marijuana, compared with 42% of Americans – despite the drug's quasi-legal status there. And while U.S. officials regularly badmouth the Dutch system, in which adults can purchase marijuana from regulated businesses, here's another startling statistic: American kids were nearly three times as likely to try marijuana by age 15 as their Dutch counterparts.
Given these discrepancies, the study authors concluded that drug use rates might not even be related to drug policy at all.
Strange. Then why go to all the trouble and expense to arrest marijuana users? Why insist on handing this lucrative market to organized criminals rather than impose commonsense regulations as we do with alcohol and tobacco?
Rather than defend his office's obsession with arresting users as a necessary means to fighting drugs, drug czar spokesman Tom Riley practically concedes the point:
"The U.S. has high crime rates but we spend a lot on law enforcement and prison. Should we spend less? We're just a different kind of country. We have higher drug use rates, a higher crime rate, many things that go with a highly free and mobile society.''
That's right: Our drug use rates are higher than just about anyone else's because – unlike the Dutch, who may choose to use marijuana without the threat of arrest – we're just so gosh darned free.