Sweden? Really, Gil?

In one of the more absurd moves this administration has made regarding drug policy so far, the drug czar has chosen Sweden as a drug policy model for the U.S. to emulate.

Director Kerlikowske also highlighted both nations’ common experiences with drug use, and showcased Sweden’s successful balanced public health approach and opposition to drug legalization as a model for the United States.

And his justification? Take every lie and platitude about balance and science and stick them into one paragraph.

“History has taught both of our nations that we must support robust and comprehensive drug policies which recognize we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem and that drug addiction as a disease of the brain. We are proud of our strong partnership with Sweden in supporting balanced drug strategies guided by science and research and opposing drug legalization, both within Europe and around the world,” said Director Kerlikowske.

Uh, yeah. Right. Balanced. Can’t arrest our way out of it. Robust. The whole world. Science. Oppose legalization. Brain disease. That about covers it.

[Thanks, Tom]
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25 Responses to Sweden? Really, Gil?

  1. ezrydn says:

    What would Gil, et al, do if “balanced drug strategies guided by science and research” were coupled with public dialogue and THE TRUTH, pointed to legalization in some form or other, would you/ Oh, not you, those hiding behind you (you are the lonley Point Man, ya know), would THEY be as acceptable to the will of The People if our voices decided otherwise?

    Of course not and we all know it. I just hope you got what you wanted for those 30 pieces of silver because it stripped you of any honorable thread of decency.

  2. Jake says:

    Aww.. poor Gil, no one ‘really’ wants to be his friend anymore so he only has a few friends who won’t talk about ‘harm reduction’ or ‘legalisation’ he can turn to… Russia.. nope, can’t be friends with them.. hmm… Iran.. nope again.. aaah Sweden!! They are ‘white, moralistic and on the good side of politics and religion’… yes, Sweden is a perfect model for drugs policy, not those crazy Portuguese who have actually ACHIEVED something…

    The whole CND taking place now is a farce, just a bunch of vested interests scratching each others backs and ignoring any real calls for evidence or Human rights. But it doesn’t matter – these guys may make the policy now, but they won’t be able to stop it changing in the near future and it will be fun to watch them squirm…

    p.s. from Transform’s twitter about UNODC funding “just to note UNODC funding is about $250 million a year, but 90% of this is donor based project funding. So only about $20million of UNODC funding comes from the regular UN budget > Puts power in hands of donor states key UNODC donors include EU, US, UK, Italy and Sweden.” (http://twitter.com/TransformDrugs) So no surprise where all the back-scratching starts…

  3. allan420 says:

    Gil… tsk tsk tsk… when he says:

    we must support robust and comprehensive drug policies which recognize we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem and that drug addiction as a disease of the brain. We are proud of our strong partnership with Sweden in supporting balanced drug strategies guided by science and research […]

    he doesn’t really much care whether anyone buys it or not. Here is the pointy nub of his singular truth:

    opposing drug legalization, both within Europe and around the world

    C’mon Gil, grow a pair of real ones.

  4. allan420 says:

    well Gil, at least there are real human beings speaking truth to power:

    BALKO: Politicians paint cross hairs on Americans

  5. Buc says:

    Gil has to answer to God someday. Hopefully for Gil, God will take, “It’s my job,” as an excuse.

  6. Tony Aroma says:

    Just wondering, how does Sweden compare with the US, or the rest of the world, when it comes to number of drug users, addicts, disease, crime, etc? Is there any empirical evidence to suggest what they are doing (if it is indeed any different than what we are doing) is actually effective in any way?

    • Duncan20903 says:

      You mean like, say stacked side by side vs another similar country, I dunno, how about if we pick, oh say Holland, completely at random. They’re also very white, Northern European, and haven’t they been on the verge of doing away with that nasty tolerance policy for more than 20 years? Perhaps longer, I first heard they were ready to “crack down” in 1990 so that’s just more than 2 decades that I know of. I remember because of how sad it made me.

      I’ve got no clue who the people in the first link below are, but she’s got to be smart because she’s urging the British to get tough on drugs. Just like Holland and Sweden!

      “The UK drug problem is the worst in Europe. The UK has one of the highest levels of recreational drug use. There are over ten Problem Drug Users (PDUs) per 1,000 of the adult population, compared to 4.5 in Sweden or 3.2 in the Netherlands.”

      “The UK has one of the most liberal drug policies in Europe.
      Both Sweden and the Netherlands (despite popular
      misconceptions) have a more rigorous approach.”

      You know, the Know Nothings subscribe to the Humpty Dumpty school of sophistry. They regularly redefine words when the traditional definition doesn’t suit them. So perhaps we could figure out a way to convince them that we do need to get tough on drugs. Just like Holland has cracked down on drug use. Holland doesn’t pay out much for wussy policies like “treatment”. Why the heck do we coddle our junkies? Turn the heat up to full boil. Coddling is for eggs.

      We all know the name of Rand, and most of us know who Peter Reuter is. No, he’s not a porn star, sheesh!:

      “Aims: Many nations now spend large sums of government money to reduce drug problems. The size and composition of public expenditures aimed at reducing drug use and related problems (a drug budget) is a useful partial description of a nation’s drug policy. This paper examines whether it is possible to estimate these sums in a consistent manner across nations.

      Methods: Past drug budget efforts in the United Kingdom and United States were reviewed. A new methodology was offered for estimation and estimates of expenditures in the Netherlands and Sweden. Using this methodology were compared.

      Findings: In both the Netherlands and Sweden, with very different official drug policy rhetoric, enforcement expenditures dominate the total; prevention expenditures are a tiny share. The baseline estimates indicate that the Netherlands by a variety of metrics (e.g., Euros per capita, Euros per problematic user) spends more on drug control, even enforcement, than Sweden but the range of estimates is such that this cannot be inferred with confidence.

      Conclusion: Estimating total government expenditures on reducing drug use and related problems is feasible and can yield useful policy insights”
      “This paper presents an approach to estimating drug budgets, preliminary to a symposium containing two articles offering new estimates of drug budgets in the Netherlands and Sweden. The article focuses on the feasibility and utility of making comparisons of expenditures for drug control across countries. ”


      This one is from 2001:

      “Prevention holds a strong position. In the Netherlands information usually aims at giving a neutral, scientific view on drugs while in Sweden the concept of clear, deterrent anti-drug messages to the youth is salient. Early interventions among risk groups play an important role in both countries. In the Netherlands with a harm reduction approach, in Sweden mainly as part of control measures.

      The Dutch concept of harm reduction and the Swedish concept of a drug free society are contradictory. Reducing harm can be seen as making drug taking less risky, while the struggle for a drug free society often means strong control measures making life more risky for drug abusers.

      The Dutch harm reduction approach fits in the concept of care while the Swedish abstinence oriented approach usually means treatment. In both countries methadone programmes are being used, but the Swedish programmes can be described as a high-threshold programme while the Dutch ones are mainly low-threshold programmes. In Sweden coercive treatment is used both within the prison system and by the Social Act. In the Netherlands coercion is used only under penal law. The country has a long tradition of ambulatory treatment of substance abusers within a juridical setting, for example probation.”


      Fascinating stuff. I can see I’m going to be up until all hours of the night. I had no clue that the Dutch had such a stunningly low ratio of degenerate addicts to the population. I knew they were doing better than everyone else, just not that they were kicking the rest of the countries all the way up and then back down the road.

      Oh, the answer to your question is yes, there’s a ton of literature comparing Sweden to Holland. Take a Google.

  7. chris says:


    Note the lack of any comments about legalization after the first post and their flimsy justification as to why those posts were filtered out. Censorship.

    • strayan says:

      What are you talking about? Every one of the three replies is anti-prohibition.

      • Chris says:

        I read through the comments for the other posts and except for the very first post most of the comments are from treatment professionals. Most of them are high content posts, which is nice, but they are obviously filtering out lots of pro-legalization posts. So I was exaggerating, but it’s still obvious.

  8. Cliff says:


    Balko has restated the obvious for us, great article. Radley and Pete should be in the Mount Rushmore of drug policy reform.

  9. strayan says:

    And yet I can give you an example of Sweden campaigning against prohibition – they are hassling the EU to lift their ban on smokeless tobacco:

    Sweden is fighting to get a European-wide ban lifted on ‘snus,’ a moist tobacco popular across Scandinavia that is sucked rather than chewed or smoked.


    Sweden discovered that their exemption from the EU ban led to fall in cigarette use and tobacco related cancer (especially lung cancer).

  10. Duncan20903 says:

    I am Olie, he is Sven.



  11. Servetus says:

    The Swedish model? Really? The EU country whose people distrust their government more than any other European nation? I wonder why…drug laws, perhaps?

    When the United States becomes a unicultural socialist matriarchy with a mere 9.4-million inhabitants and a much higher suicide rate, maybe then we’ll qualify for Sweden’s totalitarian drug laws. Until then, Swedish intolerance won’t fly in the U.S.

  12. vicky vampire says:

    Yeah,Sweden Really Gil that’s so Fucking Funny Pete cause Czar Gil would make a perfect Villain in The Stieg Larson Dragon TATTOO books yeah he confronts LISBETH Salander and says hey put out that cig and you can’t light up that joint and she pepper sprays and tazers him where it counts ouch!!!

  13. Nick says:

    How does one speak out of their ass so efficiently? It seems one would suffocate on the lack of oxygen blocked by the excrement.

  14. malcolm kyle says:

    While bullets fly into El Paso, bodies pile up in the streets of Juarez, and thugs with gold-plated AK-47s and albino tiger pens are beheading federal officials and dissolving their torsos in vats of acid, here are some facts concerning the peaceful situation in Holland. –Please save a copy and use it as a reference when debating prohibitionists who claim the exact opposite concerning reality as presented here below:

    Cannabis-coffee-shops are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

    A poll taken last year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.

    It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly marijuana-tourists and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. Public nuisance problems with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

    While it is true that lifetime and past-month use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

    According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
    In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15 to 24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

    The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

    In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

    Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 — roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.

    In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. That’s drugs, he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

    Here is a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing Drug Czar misinformation

    The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.

    The Dutch justice ministry announced, in May 2009, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There’s simply not enough criminals

    For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/faq-soft-drugs-netherlands
    or go to this page: http://www.rnw.nl/english/dossier/Soft-drugs

  15. yang says:

    Sweden is a fairly small country and their relatively small drug problem can be really attributed to the culture there more than anything, I doubt Kerlikowske can adopt Swedish culture in the USA.
    Also Sweden isn’t really as successful as they seem on the surface: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYqJ4NkroNI

    Sweden is a fairly drug rich nation compared to neighbouring Finland(where I live), in fact a lot of drugs come here through Sweden. Again, Finland is a yet smaller country without much of a history of drug use except problems with heroin and amphetamines that came with WW2. The heroin problem has been reduced quite a lot by… surprise surprise, buprenorphine substitution instead of enforcement efforts.
    Is Kerlikowske really going to start handing out opiates for addicts in the USA or will he just admit that he belongs with the brutal and abusive Russian and Iranian crowd?

  16. denmark says:

    If this wasn’t so funny it would be ridiculous:

    The Las Vegas deputy district attorney who prosecuted Paris Hilton for cocaine possession was arrested over the weekend after allegedly buying a rock of cocaine, authorities said on Monday.

    Clark County Deputy District Attorney David Schubert, 47, was taken into custody in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon and booked on one count of cocaine possession.

    • malcolm kyle says:

      Nice find!

      Clark County’s deputy district attorney — who recently prosecuted high-profile celebrity drug cases — allegedly had been paying a Las Vegas man to purchase drugs for him, according to an arrest report released Monday.

      David Schubert, 47, was arrested Saturday evening in his BMW in the area of Cambridge Street and Dumont Boulevard in Las Vegas. He was charged with possession of cocaine and conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, police said.


    • strayan says:

      You still want to bring the war mister deputy DA?

      Scumbag drug warrior deserves it.

      Bring it on Paris.

  17. vicky vampire says:

    Damn that’s so Fraking Funny about Paris Hilton and the District Attorney, why oh why do I still watch my favorite soap Days of our Live,s When you have TMZ EVERYDAY reality or Truth is stranger than fiction.Yeah a phrase coined by Mark Twain.

  18. divadab says:

    Pot in the USA, it seems to me, is a harmless proxy for serious revolt. I’m not sure, however, how much of this “revolutionary” pot use would go away with legalization.

    25%? The difference between Dutch and US usage is quite high – can it all be due to prohibition or are other societal factors involved?

  19. morecan says:

    Swedens official number of drugusers is far away from the reality. In Sweden you get arrested if they find traces of drugs. The strong prohibition with consequences like loosing job, loosing driving license, penalties, jail makes people very carefully and won’t admit druguse when asked in different sureveys. People are really afraid. Sweden talks about succefull policy but thats just a big lie. Everyday a big number of people are arrested for druguse, just watch the swedish newsflow. No country should adopt swedish false and faulty policy. I am a swedish citizen and i’m ashamed of our goverment, especially our stupid minister Maria Larsson.

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