Thursday 18 Feb, 1998
Charles Arthur, Science Editor : The Independent

Contact: Email:
Mail: Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, England
Editors note: The IoS Cannabis Campaign has web pages at


Research has established that decriminalising marijuana does not lead to the use of harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin, and that teenagers and children are more likely to experiment with alcohol and tobacco.

Long-running surveys carried out in the Netherlands, where marijuana was decriminalised in 1967, have found that even in the age group where cannabis use is highest - those between 20 and 35, of whom 12.5 per cent are "regular" users - only 1.3 per cent had used cocaine in the previous month, with the majority of those being aged over 30.

The latest sample of more than 2,000 people in 1994 found that nobody under 20 had ever used heroin, and there were just four people who "regularly" used heroin, all aged between 25 and 50. Cocaine and heroin use are not legal in the Netherlands.

The findings, from ongoing surveys carried out over the past 10 years by the Centre for Drug Research at the University of Amsterdam among the city's residents, provide more ammunition for the Independent on Sunday's campaign to decriminalise cannabis in Britain.

It also shows that the Government's insistence that decriminalising the drug would be a catastrophe does not stand up to close examination.

A leading scientific magazine is expected tomorrow to publish further research which indicates that cannabis has fewer health effects than other legal drugs such as tobacco.

Back to the index

Contact Webmaster

Go back to the Index