Although marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands as is widely believed, it is openly tolerated as evidenced by the fact that it can be both purchased and consumed in one of several Amsterdam ‘coffee houses.’ The city is thus an example of the kind of ‘anarchy’ opponents of legalization measures have warned would occur if the United States took a more lenient approach. What the evidence suggests is that legalizing marijuana can introduce a great benefit to society. This evidence is well-known throughout the scientific, political and public arena including economics and social issues but it has yet to be acted upon.
According to a report in The Economist (Case for Legalization, 2001), concerns that a growing drug-using and dependent population would emerge if marijuana was made more available are false. Although the magazine acknowledges that the price of the drug is artificially high, it attributes this to the difficulties involved in circumventing the law. The authors of this report indicate that it is only because of the high cost and the difficulty to obtain it that more individuals have not experimented with it. Instead, they become addicted, either physically or psychologically, to other, often more harmful yet legal substances such as prescription medications or alcohol. To support their argument in favor of legalization even should the numbers of suspected users rise, the Economist article (Case for Legalization, 2001) draws on the theories of John Stuart Mill. Mill’s ideas were founded on the concept that adult citizens should have the right to make their own choices regarding whether or not to participate in activity as long as it does no harm to others. This is a founding theory that has been mostly ignored in decisions made regarding alcohol and tobacco, both of which have proven to directly cause significant harm to innocent others,