"The use of drugs seems to be a feature of more affluent countries. The US, which has been driving much of the world’s drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies, as well as (in many US states), a higher minimum legal alcohol drinking age than many comparable developed countries. The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the US, has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in nation level rates of illegal drug use."


Degenhardt, Louisa; Chiu, Wai-Tat; Sampson, Nancy; Kessler; Ronald C.; Anthon, James C.; Angermeyer, Matthias; Bruffaerts, Ronny; Girolamo, de Giovanni ; Gureje, Oye; Huang, Yueqin; Karam, Aimee; Kostyuchenko, Stanislav; Lepine, Jean Pierre; Mora, Maria Elena Medina; Neumark, Yehuda; Ormel, J. Hans; Pinto-Meza, Alejandra; Posada-Villa, Jose; Stein, Dan J.; Takeshima, Tadashi; Wells, J. Elisabeth, "Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys," PLoS Medicine (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Public Library of Science, July 2008) Vol. 5, Issue 7, p. 1062.