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Dutch Marijuana Use Lower Than European Average, Study Says

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Lisbon, Portugal: Marijuana use among Dutch citizens is lower than the European average, according to survey data published last week in a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

According to the 2009 annual report, entitled "The State of the Drugs Problem in Europe," among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 percent are cannabis users, compared with the European average of 6.8 percent.

Under Dutch law, citizens over 18 years of age may legally purchase and consume cannabis at licensed cafes (so-called 'coffee-shops') located throughout the nation.

Among European adults, approximately 22 percent acknowledge having ever consumed marijuana. By contrast, in the United States over 40 percent of adults have experimented with the drug.

Over the past several decades numerous European nations, such as Portugal and Belgium, have adopted policies depenalizing cannabis possession.

According to the World Health Organization study published last year, the United States possesses the highest rate of illicit drug use in the world. "The US, which has been driving much of the world's drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies," the study reported. "The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the US, has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in nation-level rates of illegal drug use."

The EMCDDA report concluded, "Europe is moving into a period of declining levels of cannabis use."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the 2009 annual EMCDDA report is available online at: http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/annual-report/2009.



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