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by Peter Moskos

October 23, 2009

From Amsterdam: Lessons on controlling drugs

Hot off the virtual presses, here's an article I wrote appearing in this coming Sunday's Washington Post. I talk about the difference in policy and police attitudes toward drugs in Amsterdam and in the U.S.:
In Amsterdam, the red-light district is the oldest and most notorious neighborhood. Two picturesque canals frame countless small pedestrian alleyways lined with legal prostitutes, bars, porn stores and coffee shops. In 2008, I visited the local police station and asked about the neighborhood's problems. I laughed when I heard that dealers of fake drugs were the biggest police issue -- but it's true. If fake-drug dealers are the worst problem in the red-light district, clearly somebody is doing something right.
History provides some lessons. The 21st Amendment ending Prohibition did not force anybody to drink or any city to license saloons. In 1933, after the failure to ban alcohol, the feds simply got out of the game. Today, they should do the same -- and last week the Justice Department took a very small step in the right direction.
Read all about it!


dave h. said...

Well done Peter! It makes me very happy to see you in the papers and on TV. Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...


Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic linked to your WAPO article and commented on it. There is also an interesting discussion thread that follows. You should check it out.

From Canada

Unknown said...

Wonderful work Peter. We're proud of you. Sooner or later America will come face to face with the simple reality that drugs cannot be controlled by force. What a monumental waste of Police time, young lives and resources, and how well you demonstrated this.
Orlando, Harvard Sociology

PCM said...

Thanks, Orlando!