IDEAS-CANADA.CA 21 Sep 2017

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SWEDEN WINNING WAR ON DRUGS

Actually, Sweden, which has embarked on a very strong fight against drugs, has the highest level of drug-related deaths in all of Europe. How much higher than the rest of Europe, I do not know, but it can be very easily found in the yearly reports of EMCDDA. Perhaps those reports would be interesting literature for you because they give the data available in Europe in a compact format which is easy for you to survey and to determine which of these claims may be true.

Peter Cohen, Director, Centre for Drug Research, School of Social Science, University of Amsterdam Proceedings of the Special Committee on Illegal Drugs - Evidence for May 28 - Morning Session

Proponents of 'medical' marijuana, needle exchange programs, methadone handouts, "soft" law enforcement, legalization, and other permissive drug strategies would have you believe Canada cannot win the War on Drugs. Sweden proves otherwise. By choosing zero-tolerance and a drug-free society, Sweden is eradicating illicit drug use. Only 2% of young adults in Sweden are likely to have smoked cannabis in the last year. In drug-permissive countries like Holland, it's about 14%. In Australia, 33%.

In Sweden, use of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines is also appreciably lower. Swedish courts can order treatment; drug trafficking may be punished by 20 years imprisonment; schools and municipal social services provide extensive education against drug use; "harm reduction" and needle-exchange have NOT been adopted.
COMPARISON - Restrictive SWEDEN to Permissive AUSTRALIA SOURCE: UN World Report 1997


For much of the 1980s, Sweden's strict policies appeared to work. Drug use, especially marijuana smoking, decreased as police enforcement efforts increased.

But in the 1990s, the statistics reversed course. Drug use, especially among young people, rose sharply to levels close to those of the 1970s, before the strict measures were introduced.

See:Europe: Drugs -- Sweden's Strict Policies (Part 4) - Radio Free Europe

For an Australian analysis, see detailed harm reduction data for Australia


Throughout the world, statistical evidence proves tolerance as a drug policy is a failure. Wouldn't Sweden's model be a better choice for Canada?

In January 2001, Sweden assumes the rotating presidency of the EU. Officials in Stockholm had originally announced they would make their strategy for a drug-free society a central plank of their EU program. That idea has been shelved as Sweden -- still admired abroad for its many progressive policies -- finds itself out of step on this one with most of its EU partners.


As drug use has gone up, politicians have continued to rely on the police, gradually increasing their powers to enforce the country's anti-drug policy. Since 1993, police have been empowered to stop anyone they suspect was using drugs and force the suspect to provide a blood or urine sample.

But a new report by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention -- a government-funded institute -- questions the effectiveness of these tactics. According to the council, in the period from 1991 to 1997 -- when arrests for minor drug offenses increased by 70 percent -- there was with no decline in drug use statistics.

Ted Goldberg, who also teaches at Stockholm University and has written a book entitled "Demystifying Drugs," says flatly that Swedish policy has failed and Swedish policy-makers have begun to confront that reality. Change at the grassroots is already occurring, he says, although slowly.

"Things are changing in Sweden, slowly. We do have examples of 'harm reduction' in Sweden even if we don't talk about them out loud. For instance, we have methadone maintenance and just about a year ago, the number of places for methadone maintenance was increased from 600 to 800. We also have needle exchange programs."

See:Europe: Drugs -- Sweden's Strict Policies (Part 4) - Radio Free Europe

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