Changing America’s Drug War: The Potential Implications of the Dutch Approach for America’s War on Drugs

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Changing America’s Drug War: The Potential Implications of the Dutch Approach for America’s War on Drugs

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Title: Changing America’s Drug War: The Potential Implications of the Dutch Approach for America’s War on Drugs
Author: Kokot, Matthew
Advisor: Waldman, Sidney
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Political Science
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 21033 bytes137299 bytes
Issue Date: 2008
Abstract: Over the past 30 years, America’s war on drugs has cost federal and state governments billions of dollars and has led to the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of drug offenders. Despite these efforts, however, 46 percent of Americans admit to ever using an illicit drug, and nearly 15 percent admit to using an illicit drug within the past month. In contrast, in Dutch drug policy, the use of the criminal justice system is reserved for dealings with drug traffickers, while drug use itself is seen as a healthcare issue, and is instead combated with a wide range of programs from methadone maintenance to needle exchange. Even more striking is the fact that the use of marijuana is tolerated in Dutch society in certain settings, such as in licensed coffee shops. By analyzing both American and Dutch drug policy, it becomes apparent that while the American war on drugs has proven costly both financially and socially, the Dutch approach has been largely successful at reducing the harms associated with drug use, such as addiction, overdose and HIV. At the same time, however, America’s war on drugs is firmly entrenched in a nearly hundred year old tradition of drug prohibition and, as such, does not appear to be ending. Regardless of this fact, however, the Dutch approach nonetheless provides a “useful corrective” (Boyum, Reuter, 102) to American policy. More specifically, certain elements of the Dutch approach, such as tolerant marijuana policy and needle exchange, have valuable lessons for US policymakers even within the context of the war on drugs because of their ability to reduce the negative consequences of drug use without in turn increasing drug prevalence. Thus, even though the war on drugs seems destined to continue, the Dutch approach provides compelling evidence that this drug war can at least be improved.
Subject: Drug control -- United States
Subject: Drug control -- Netherlands
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/1441

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Kokot, Matthew. "Changing America’s Drug War: The Potential Implications of the Dutch Approach for America’s War on Drugs". 2008. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/1441.

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