Mr. Costa's Mailbox

April 2, 2008

A collection of emails sent by people to Mr. Costa - ASK HIM TOO!

Our “Silenced NGO partner” video was a great success: it has been viewed more than 25.000 times on YouTube (I m writing this article on Wednesday afternoon), probably many more people watched it on other blogs and websites (many sites embeded our video), a lot of people sent emails to Mr. Costa to ask the same question he refused to answer at the 51st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND): “How do you explain that less young people have tried cannabis in Holland, where cannabis is available in coffee shops, than in some neighboring countries with restrictive drug policies?”

I would like to thank for everbody who circulated the video and/or emailed Mr. Costa, our only chance to change UN drug policies is to make our voices heard, loud and clear.

If you haven’t watched the movie, please do so, circulate the video and share your opinion with Mr. Costa!

READ A COLLECTION OF EMAILS SENT TO MR. COSTA BY CITIZENS (we deleted the names of the senders for privacy reasons):

Dear Sir,

I was wondering if you could explain briefly or in detail the following question which has been raised to you previously. Why is it that in Holland, where marijuana is accessible to any adult who would choose it, marijuana use is actually lower than the surrounding nations? This would seem to lead one to a consideration that prohibition may increase usage of the prohibited item.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to a diligent response.


Why does the Netherlands have lower marijuana use than its surrounding countries?  

Dear Mr Costa

You will no doubt be aware of the youtube video at in which you are asked a simple
question. As you do not answer it there, perhaps I can ask it of you again:

In Holland there is in effect unrestricted access to cannabis for adults,
yet the levels of cannabis use in Holland are lower than the surrounding
countries. This would seem to be contrary to the claim made by the
supporters of prohibition that easy availability naturally leads to high
levels of use and that prohibition results in the lowest level of use. How
do you, as a supporter and promoter of prohibition, explain this?

Will you please answer that question and that question specifically.



Dear Executive Director Costa, UNODC.

Given Holland's coffeeshop system, in which adults can legally buy
cannabis, how do you reason that it has lower cannabis usage than its
neighbouring countries? Does this not go against the theory that drug
prohibition reduces use of drugs?

Please endeavour to base future drugs policy on effectiveness, rather
than the UN's legacy of drug prohibition.

Thank you,

United Kingdom

Dear Mr. Costa!
I saw this video ( and therefore I kindly ask you to resign.
Your tone, your attutide towards the facts is simply unacceptable.
With regards,

xx, dr.
attorney at law

Mr. Costa,

how do you explain the relatively low levels of cannabis use in Holland, given your claims that easy availability would lead to higher levels of use?

Does this not invalidate the premise on which the policy for the need of prohibition is based?



Mr. Antonio-Maria Costa,

  I am writing you to find the answer to a question presented at the 51st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Frederick Polak asked a very direct question that was not answered in any meaningful way to fit the definition of an answer that actually answers the question.

Cannabis is available for anyone who is over the age of 18 in Holland.
The levels of use is lower than in surrounding countries where it is not legal.

How do you explain this?

Thank you for your time,

It is a true shame the world can't move towards rationality in all manners of government. I truly hope that the other parts of the UN that work with issues that involve the lives of millions of people (ie. Darfur) have people willing to answer relevant questions posed to them. The question about drug prohibition presented by Frederick Polak was relevant and NEEDED to be addressed. Covering up proven facts is something we did in medieval times. It is time to look at all the facts and get workable solutions to today's problems.
Ottawa, Canada

Why do you continue to pursue drug prohibition when there is proof in  
the Netherlands that when you make cannabis available legally, public  
usage in all age groups is actually lower.  These are facts, can we  
please take a serious look at the human rights violations  that occur  
all over the world, including the US, because of drug prohibition.

There has never been such thing as a drug free country or world, so  
why to we chase the fruitless battle against people who need  
treatment, not imprisonment.

Dear Sir,

Considering the fact that you failed to explain the matter during UN
Comission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in march this year I must ask
you directly the following question:

Why are the levels of use of cannabis in the Netherlands lower than in
surrounding countries even though it is freely available to all

All the best,


Mr.Costa, I am a citizen of the country that is the biggest example of the failure of drug prohibtion on earth. Yes, this very policy that you so strongly defend has failed miserably in the United States, especially since it began working in a nearly fascist manner after the 1980's "War On Drugs" began. Drug abuse levels in the United States are outrageous. All I would like to know is how you explain such massive failures, while Holland, as Dr. Frederick Pollack has pointed out, has significantly lower levels of drug use and abuse? How is it that Holland, with its 'failed experiment' of decriminizing Cannabis, and its readily available Coffee Shops, shows lower levels of drug use and abuse than the countries surrounding it? How is this possible? How can you even refer to this as a failed experiment? Is it not Drug Prohibition that has failed? All I ask of you is to answer these questions, without straying away, or discussing other matters (period)

Mr. Costa,

At the 2008 meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, you  
refused to answer Frederick Polak from NCOR and rudely tried to use  
parliamentarian tricks to avoid answering a fundamental and important  
question about whether prohibition of cannabis is effective:

Given that the Netherlands has full availability of marijuana for  
personal use for adults, how does Costa explain the fact that  
marijuana use rates in that country are lower than in the surrounding  

I feel you should answer that question and also that you should avoid  
bringing security guards into NGO meetings in response to your  
reluctance to answer a question that you feel is tantamount to disorder.

Congressional Liaison
Friends of Brad Will (NY Chapter)

Mr. Costa,

I just saw a video that portrayed you and your important work in a
rather embarrassing light.  The 2008 meeting of the UN Commission on
Narcotic Drugs, where you   refused to answer a question about the
Netherlands  full availability of marijuana for
personal use for adults, and how to explain that use rates in that
country are lower than in the surrounding

I feel you should answer that question.


Dear Mr. Costa,
Why is there a lower cannabis consumption rate in the Netherlands, where it is freely available, than in the surrounding countries where cannabis is prohibited?

Woodland Hills,  CA  

Why did you refuse to answer and explain why Hollands cannabis  
consumption level is lower than in the surrounding countries?

Best regards

Dear Mr. Costa,
why do you think that the marihuana consumption in the Netherlands is lower then in Germany?

Maybe it s easier for you to write then to speak.


Dear Mr. Costa,

I want to ask you one simple question Mr. Costa.

In the Netherlands there is cannabis is freely and legally available in so called Coffeeshops for everyone aged over 18 years, so no restriction for personal use at all . Why are the usage levels among dutch adults lower than in other countries sourrounding the Netherlands??? What's you oppinion?

Doesn't this proof that your drug policy completely failed?
Why do you think other countries want that dutch coffeeshops disappear? Isn't it the reason that they show how useless drug prohibition is?  It's just a very expensive action that causes more and more harm than helping anyone (neither all citizens who have to pay prohibition via taxes, nor drug users who don't harm anyone else except theirself). Only the mafia and criminal organisations profit of the prohibition!

yours sincerely


PS. I would be very proud to hear a statement about your position.

Dear Mr. Costa,

How do you explain that the Cannabis consumption is lower in the
Netherlands than in the surrounding countries, given the fact that drug
prohibition regarding Cannabis is not implemented as you deem proper?

In my opinion this proves that Cannabis prohibition causes more harm
than you pretend it avoids.

Please explain, in detail, why the Cannabis consumption is lower in the
Netherlands than in the surrounding countries, despite your implication
that prohibition reduces consumption.

In case you should not respond shortly, personally, in due detail and
without resorting to preformulated nonsensical text, I will take that as
proof that your Organisation is neither open to criticism nor to
questions by concerned citizens. This would render it actively
antidemocratic. I would not hesitate to share any such response with
others, nor to share the fact or my conclusions from this.

   Marburg an der Lahn

Dear Mr. Costa,

I am an American taxpayer and while I believe Ted Turner's billion dollar donation to the UN more symbolically represents my funding your salary than chronically hijacked UN dues, it still makes me your boss.

Now, Sir, answer Mr. Frederick Polak's question. You are ethically bound to carry out your duties as a UN official for the welfare of mankind. Where is your moral courage Sir ?

Why do you not renounce your post if your personal beliefs are interfering with official duties in reference to a medical problem ? Or should I say, the War on Drugs scam ?

How do you explane the fact, that Holland have less drug consumers than other countries where is
drug, and marihuana forbidden?

How do you explane that?

xx from croatia

Dear Mr. Costa:

Thank  you for your service as Executive Director of the UN Office on  
Drugs and Crime.

It is with some interest that I recently happened upon a short video  
at the internet site,, depicting your exchange with a  
participant at the 51st session of the UNCND earlier this month. This  
video revealed your apparent unwillingness to respond to a relevant  
question regarding the efficacy of prohibition in decreasing cannabis  
use, a matter that I feel to be of grave importance.

I am by no means a radical drug rights promoter, and I do not use any  
illegal drugs, yet as an American I am quite concerned about the rate   
of drug-related incarceration in my country. I feel that it is  
essential that our society consider other solutions to our  
incarceration problem in addition to low-level drug prohibition and  

I was saddened to see your response to Dr. Frederick Polak during the  
meeting, who asked you to explain how prohibition of cannabis squares  
with the fact that legal cannabis use in Holland is lower than illegal  
cannabis use in surrounding countries. Dr. Polak's question was a fair  
one driven by the presence of data that suggests that prohibition is  
an ineffective control strategy. I believe that this point is an  
important one for a man in your position to respond to maturely.

Your response regarding the decreased number of coffee shops in  
Amsterdam did not address the question. Further, your demeanor became  
disturbing and unprofessional. You appeared defensive and oddly  
hostile in response to a very legitimate question. You had previously  
called for "dynamic, outspoken" NGO partners, yet you really crumbled  
as soon as this critical issue was raised. The whole thing was an  
embarrassment, and frankly makes me question your suitability for your  
current position.

In the modern age, behavior of the sort you demonstrated increasingly  
escapes beyond the walls of such meetings. I have no idea how many  
thousands of people have seen your performance in this video, but I  
cannot believe that many feel that you responded on this issue with  
anything like the level of professionalism and integrity that your  
position demands. I have always been a supporter of the UN, and feel  
that your office could make a significant difference for the young  
people in our societies. Yet it is hard not to feel disappointed in  
you. You owe the citizens of the world better than this.

To be fair, I don't know the history between yourself and Dr. Polak.  
It is clear that he has gotten under your skin in a fairly remarkable  
way, and perhaps there is more to this story that is made available in  
the short video of your exchange. However, you and I have no history.  
Therefore, I hope that you might be willing to respond to me--a  
citizen of the US and the world--on this matter.

How do you explain the relatively low levels of cannabis use in  
Holland, given your assertions that easy availability would inevitably  
lead to higher levels of use?

Thank you for your time. I wish you continued success in your work.



Dear Mr. Costa,

how does you, as an important member of the UNO, explain the relatively low levels of cannabis use in Holland, given your claims that easy availability would lead to higher levels of use?

Best regards,


Dear Mr. Costa:

I am contacting you on your stance of open sales of cannabis/marijuana. You have, by what I have seen, been challenged by Frederick Polak on your stance of cannabis. The question he asked questioned why there are lower rates of cannabis consumption in Holland lower than the countries surrounding it, which have outlawed cannabis consumption. This very question challenges the theory of drug prohibition, which states that if prohibited, the drug or outlawed substance will be minimally consumed, or otherwise prevented. This theory is greatly challenged by the fact that in a country that cannabis manufacturing and sale is not illegal has lower consumption rates than the countries around it, which have banned the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of cannabis.

Your duty as the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is also challenged by the very quote you said yourself at the 51st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). What you said was: "I am not here for a personal debate, we are not a debating society, we want to solve the world's problems. Period." That quote breaks the reason of existence of the UN, and all free countries' governments for the fact that an idea that only one person may have may be passed on to the next person, and the next person, and the next, so on, and so on. If we were not, as humans, a debating society, we would then be only under the control of one ideology, only one. Saying this means you blatantly reject everybody who has a differing opinion of yours, which is very irrational and irresponsible for one of management powers. That statement seems to also be one reflected by fascist government.

I conclude that as people living in countries who work with the UN, we deserve an answer to the question, "Why are cannabis consumption rates lower in the country with no restrictions on cannabis manufacturing, sales, and/or consumption, yet higher in countries which have prohibited all cannabis?" As somebody of high responsibility, I and many others expect a responsible answer.

Thank you for your time,


Dear Mr Costa,

I recently viewed a video of you refusing to answer a simple question posed to you by a Mr Polak from the Netherlands on marijuana use.  Why did you not answer it straightforward?  How do you explain the fact that with widespread legally available marijuana the usage of which has become lower?  Are you like my President Bush, believing only what you want to?  Even with many facts right there for you, you either refuse to believe them or you are ignorant.  I'm not saying that this would happen everywhere and I'm not asking you to do anything beyond your duties that come along with your position.  However, by blatantly refusing to answer that question you look like a coward and a fool.

Hoping you start doing your job or get fired,


Dear Mr. Costa,

Would you be kind enough to explain why the use of marijuana in Holland is much lower than the surrounding countries despite marijuana being legal and available in Holland?
I know you have dodged this question rigorously, but many people would like to know what your theory is. After all, that's what the people pay you to know.

With kind regards,

Recently, at the 51st Session of the UN commission on narcotic drugs in Vienna in the forum entitled "Not so silent partners" on the 13th March 2008 you were posed a question by Frederick Polak a psychiatrist from the Health Services in the municipality to Amsterdam.  
The question, if I may be so bold as to distill, was: 'Considering the liberal attitudes towards, and legalization of cannabis in the Netherlands, how do you explain the lower usage rates in that country compared with surrounding countries'.  
Considering that the UN is advising the decisions of how to deal with the virulent problem of drugs and drug addiction in the world today, I feel that this question has enormous bearing on the ultimate plans, aims, goals and designs of governing bodies in how to deal with drug issues.  As an official put in place to serve the public and inform governments of the most effective solutions to some of the dire dangers in our societies I believe that you owe an honest answer to the question.   
I understand completely how one can be put in a temporarily awkward position by data that seems to undermine established positions, and then to have to theorize immediately is often a task that is beyond possibility.  However, the question does warrant thought, consideration and an answer.
Rational men, who honestly seek the truth, have always sought out opposing views in order to either strengthen their own case (by a process of logically reducing the opposing view and therefore upholding your own) or in order to expose weakness in your own views, and thereby giving one the opportunity to reevaluate and eventually arrive at an even more correct line of thinking.  
Bear in mind, I am not suggesting that you are incorrect in your current position that cannabis should remain a prohibited drug.  I am asking you to take into account all factors when making a resolution.  You obviously have not answered the question stated above satisfactorily if you can not give a meaningful answer to it.  You have an obligation to give opinions unbiased by politics, just truth.  I would ask you to hold this foremost in your mind when making resolutions and decisions.
Yours faithfully,

Mr. Costa,

As the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, it is  
important that you or your organization publicly respond to the  
question related to lower cannabis use in Holland versus that of  
surrounding countries.

The credibility of your organization as well as your personal  
credibility is at stake.

Montreal, Canada

Dear Mr Costa,

how do you explain the relatively low levels of cannabis use in
Holland, given your claims that easy availability would lead to higher
levels of use?
Thank you in advance for your answer


Dear Mr Costa,

I appreciate that you most probably have had many emails, some
worthwhile, some abusive but I am here to offer support for both sides
of the discussion relating to recent questioning by Frederick Polak.

Having recently taken up working in mental health it is clear to me
that the failings experienced in my country (England) and in Europe
are born of almost identical symptoms. Drug use is a major contributor
to issues that cause us concern, such as health, crime and poverty.
Drug use itself has many facets that extend to many areas of our
society, and service deliverance.
In England particularly, drug use and alcohol abuse is at an all time
high but it has become clear that within this political pressure,
character assassination and damage limitation idealism is stunting our
movement to fully understanding the philosophy of 'drug culture.'
Politicians are terrified to discuss alternative options and opinions,
research is limited, and masked when it appears to dispel theories,
and the narcotic debate is a non mover from the start.
I have viewed many a debate on this particular issue and they
uniformly end with a lack of comprehension for the subject that leads
to ignorance, or lack of support due to association with narcotics. I
do not ask for the change in law, but I would like to see a serious
and open discussion that explores more than just the simplicity of
'drug culture' and takes into account the widening issues that 'drug
culture' influences.

Holland has always interested me as a nation, their rationale to
Cannabis is unusual but seemingly well balanced. The availability and
regularity of use in all ages is confusing at best, it must be treated
as an anomaly in current theory however it is clear that current UN
theory is not adopted in Holland.
It appears as though the youth do not partake in vast numbers, violent
and poverty enabling crime directly relating to Cannabis is low and
the concept of use, over overuse is one that does not equate to the
problems we currently face in the UK.
Why would this be so? I could not give you the definite answer, and
unfortunately neither can anybody else!
This is where is serious issue lies, we know the dangers of alcohol
and understand its long term problems but we still allow its free and
easy distribution. Cannabis however is an unknown quantity with
positive and negative research but very little funding or debate.

I can only theorise the differences between Holland and the UK, having
been there, studied Dutch culture and discussed the country with Dutch
friends, but it is clear that in UK experiences more serious addiction
issues and deepening immersion in drug culture. I do not believe
Cannabis leads to other drugs, but I do believe the taboo of Cannabis
creates a stereotype and extension whereby enabling someone to commit
a narcotic crime by buying Cannabis furthers the comfort with the
differing narcotics. Everybody makes their own decision! In Holland
Cannabis is not seen as a 'drug' but as Cannabis. The separation
itself creates smoother understandings.

This can also be seen having an impact on addiction as a whole, having
to use regular 'dealers' and staying within contact of the crowd
enables a narcotic supply, and in the case of cannabis, price and
quantity need to remain constant to enable usage at all.
In Holland allowing persons to grow their own Cannabis enables them to
take their own lead on control and responsibility to their health. In
many cases smokers who in the UK might smoke everyday, may wait weeks
and weeks for the opportunity to smoke a pure amount of  their own

Instead, persons purchase larger more frequent amounts, at
extortionate prices to mix with tobacco and put their health at risk
from 2 furthering facets, tobacco and not using a filter. Purer
concentrations have been proved to be less harmful and in the current
economic climate why should the 'underworld' continue to be increasing
their assets, and draining Government funds while the stakeholders
become less wealthy in pocket and health.

These theories continue to take money from the real issues, such as
serious drug use, health, crime and poverty and we are left with huge
unnecessary deficits in finances that while might reduce Cannabis
crime a small amount, do very little to tackle to wider issues. Recent
'contaminated weed' was also a direct reaction to criminal activity
motivating 'drug dealers' to make extra profit on their illegal
product by adding weight to their product.
The Governments reaction was the ignore the wider issue and advise of
the growing number of more powerful strains.

I could continue with this open and frank discussion for hours, giving
many points of view, and I believe there are some that support the
current theoretical structure, perhaps you would like to invite me for
a discussion?
However I would very much like to see an understanding to this subject
that emphasises more discussion/comprehension and less perceived
ignorance, attributed to a lack of knowledge and, well, ignorance.


England, UK

Mr. Costa,

I was saddened to see a recent video of your refusal to answer a direct, honest, and relevant question regarding cannabis policy in the Netherlands, and it's relation to your decisions regarding cannabis policy worldwide - As you were not willing to address this question the first, second, or third time around, perhaps the fourth will be a charm:

How do you explain the relatively low levels of cannabis use in Holland, given your claims that easy availability would lead to higher levels of use?

As the answer to this question is absolutely central to your claim, I anticipate your prompt and concise response.

Missoula, MT, USA

Could you please answer the oh-so-daunting question of Holland's low usage rate of marijuana to me? I really don't understand your stance on it, and since my money is part of your salary, I'd like to know. That is your job, right?  


Dear Mr. Costa,

I recently watched a very interesting video of a question and answer
session at the 51st Session of the CND. In particular, I was interested
by your response to the question by Dr. Polak regarding low cannabis use
in Holland, given the legal nature of this substance in that country.
After watching the video several times I realized that it appears that
you didn't answer his question.

As a citizen of a UN-member state (and thereby my tax money partially
funding your organization), I would like to ask you this same question
myself. How do you explain the relatively low cannabis use in Holland,
given high availability? I will respect your opinion, of course, but I
feel very strongly that it is your duty to communicate to us your
opinion and the reasons for your opinions, given your influence in this

I look forward to hearing from you.



How can you claim that with easy availability of drugs the substance use will rise, when Holland has free availability of substances for responsible use by adults and maintains lower usage levels than surrounding countries?

Dear Sir,

I was wondering if you could explain briefly or in detail the following question which has been raised to you previously. Why is it that in Holland, where marijuana is accessible to any adult who would choose it, marijuana use is actually lower than the surrounding nations? This would seem to lead one to a consideration that prohibition may increase usage of the prohibited item.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to a diligent response.


Peter Sarosi