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I think the drinking problems in the United States are caused by the fact we cant drink until we are 21. It criminalizes it and makes kids want to use it as a tool to rebel. Kids that I know have been "drinking" since age 12-14 with their parents rarely binge drink because it is not that big of a deal to them.
 

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That same vision let to the Dutch policy of tolerating soft drugs usage: as long as something is criminal, it will remain a thrill for kids, thus tempting and a cause for abuse.
When it's (semi-)legal, excessive usage will be limited, and it can be controlled/monitored better.
The percentage of Dutch kids using weed is the same, and in some cases even lower than other Western countries, where it is still illegal...
 
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