Weed Watch

New data says Americans smoke more pot than Euro counterparts

For the fourth year in a row, federal lawmakers have cut funding for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's much-ridiculed Anti-Drug Media Campaign – the program that, since 1998, has been bringing to the airwaves winning advertisements, such as the infamous Super Bowl ad that suggested recreational pot smoking funds terrorism. Lawmakers have been steadily slicing the ONDCP's noxious ad budget since 2002, when the campaign received a $180-million appropriation. Since then, funding has been cut by a total of 44%, with lawmakers earmarking $100 million for 2006.

In other news, new data from the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (www.emcdda.eu.int) reveals that Americans smoke more pot than their European counterparts. When comparing 2005 data on drug use among European Union nations to 2003 data from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the EMCDDA reports that about 51% of Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 report having used marijuana, compared to about 30% of Europeans. And 22% of Americans said they've used marijuana within the past year, compared to just 13% of Europeans. To Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the new stats are just another nail in the prohibitionist coffin: "The European experience provides a strong empirical case that removal of criminal prohibitions on cannabis possession does not significantly increase the prevalence of marijuana use, and likewise, that U.S.-imposed criminal sanctions do little to dissuade pot use among young adults," he said. "U.S. leaders would be well-advised to follow Europe's example and repeal its war on cannabis consumers in favor of policies of tolerance and regulation."

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