Over the weekend, as news of the tragic passing of Whitney Houston spread, speculation about the cause of death and the award-winning singer’s history of drug use caused many people to reconsider our nation’s failed war on drugs. Among them was fellow singer Tony Bennett, who called on attendees of a pre-Grammy gala to join him in the fight to end drug prohibition.
“First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston,” he told the audience. “I’d like every person in this room to campaign to legalize drugs.”
“Let’s legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam,” Bennett said. “No one’s hiding or sneaking around corners to get it. They go to a doctor to get it.”
While Holland hasn’t actually legalized drugs, its policies are focused on reducing the harms associated with drugs, rather than arresting nonviolent drug users.
Most significantly, the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana are tolerated by the government, which has separated marijuana from the market for harder drugs. As a result of this policy and more readily available treatment options, drug use and addiction rates in the Netherlands are far lower than in the United States.