Opinion

7 big myths about marijuana and legalization

The Justice Department recently announced it would not enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado. This is regrettable. Legalizing marijuana endangers public health and safety. But that's not what these seven popular myths maintain.

By , Op-ed contributor, Sept. 5, 2013

6. Myth: Portugal and the Netherlands provide successful models of legalization

Contrary to media reports and partisan think tanks, Portugal and the Netherlands have not legalized drugs, including marijuana. In Portugal, someone caught with a small amount of drugs is sent to a three-person panel and given treatment, a fine, or a warning and release. The result of this 2001 policy is less clear. Treatment services were ramped up at the same time the new policy was implemented, and a decade later there are more young people using marijuana, but fewer people dying of opiate and cocaine overdoses.

In the Netherlands, officials seem to be scaling back their marijuana non-enforcement policy (lived out in “coffee shops”) after witnessing higher rates of marijuana use and treatment admissions there. The government no longer allows non-residents to buy marijuana. What all of this says about how legalization would play out in the hyper-commercial US, which is obsessed with advertising, is another point entirely.

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