This policy is often mistranslated and misinterpreted as "indulgent" or 'permissive." In fact, in this society, it operates as a powerful social control.
The care system has no waiting lists. It is easily accessible, free of charge and it treats addicts respectfully as fellow citizens.
—Eddy L Engelsman
The Dutch are a calm people. In recent years, however, some of their leading officials and academic experts have become repeatedly agitated over the persistent slandering of their system of drug control by foreigners, especially by American politicians and drug enforcement officials. It has become almost a reflex action for leading drug warriors, such as U.S. Rep. Charles Range! (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, to reject calls for law reform by pointing to the alleged failures of Holland — and, of course, England. To make matters worse, and even more confusing, some leading English officials have periodically launched roughly similar attacks on the Dutch.
As we shall see later in this book, the English play an interesting game which finds their top ministers, led by the Prime, loudly proclaiming their allegiance to the drug war of their American cousins — all the while pouring millions of good English pounds into compassionate "harm reduction" programs. Current English policies are based in part upon their compassionate history of drug control and in part upon the truly successful work of their neighbors just across the channel.
The English talk American and act Dutch. The Dutch talk Dutch and act Dutch.
Unlike the minions of Mrs. Thatcher, and most of the ministers of the world, the leaders of the Dutch government, politicians all, stolidly refuse to enlist in the American war on drugs. Indeed, the Dutch government is the only one on record which officially states the truth which should be obvious to anyone who does not live in a cave: a war on drugs is actually a war on your own citizens.
Such attitudes cause a sense of disorientation, analogous to lack of oxygen when landing on a strange planet, to those committed to tough drug strategies. Even more disorienting is that there is almost no political conflict in Holland over the country's unique drug policies. Politicians across the spectrum simply agree on the major outlines of these non-war strategies partly because there is a broad belief that they work and partly because there is broad support among the people at the political grassroots.
It is even more remarkable that some American experts and officials have been reporting regularly on the Dutch success — and have been just as regularly ignored by those leading American politicians who simply do not want to hear inconvenient facts whichsuggest that any other nation could do better at drug control. Yet, the authoritative reports continue. One of the latest was the annual narcotics report for 1988 submitted in 1989 by John Shad, the U.S. Ambassador to The Netherlands. In a courageous analysis he suggested that it might well be "educational" for American policy makers to study Dutch drug policy for the insightful lessons it might provide in dealing with the harsh situation at home. Of course, there are many lessons to be learned in the Dutch school by everyone