Crime and Drugs -- To legalize or not to legalize

Martin Jelsma explains the Dutch reality

4 September 2010
Marcela Sanchez

Nations throughout Latin America and the world are debating whether to legalize drugs or not. For anyone who has seen the violent effects of illegal drugs -- decapitated bodies, drive-by shootings, car bombs -- a thorough and honest exploration of alternatives is long overdue.

“The reality is," Martin Jelsma, international drug policies expert at the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, said in an interview "that there is significant crime in the cannabis market in the Netherlands because only sales in small quantities is allowed. Everything else is criminalized as everywhere else." In other words, the supply is handled by criminals.

The intrinsic contradiction of free consumption and illegal supply complicated the job of law enforcement and led to an initial laxity among authorities toward those involved in the drug trade. As a result, “criminal groups grew stronger in the Netherlands” and even began to export their wares. Police forces now must make daily raids to “suppress production to the level that is supported by domestic consumption,” he added.

Read the full article here.

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