FACTOID # 15: A mere 0.8% of West Virginians were born in a foreign country.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Drug policy of the Netherlands

The drug policy of the Netherlands is based on 3 principles:

  1. Drug use is a public health issue, not a criminal matter
  2. A distinction between hard drugs and soft drugs exists
  3. High drug related public expenditure, the highest drug related public expenditure per capita of all countries in EU (139 EUR per capita, 2004). [1]

It is a pragmatic policy. Most policymakers in the Netherlands believe that if a problem has proved to be unsolvable, it is better to try controlling it instead of continuing to enforce laws with mixed results. By comparison, most other countries take the point of view that drugs are detrimental to society and must therefore be outlawed, even when such policies fail to eliminate drug use. This has caused friction between the Netherlands and other countries, most notably with France and Germany. As of 2004, Belgium seems to be moving toward the Dutch model and a few local German legislators are calling for experiments based on the Dutch model. Switzerland has had long and heated parliamentary debates about whether to follow the Dutch model, but finally decided against it in 2004; currently a ballot initiative is in the works on the question. In the last few years certain strains of marijuana with higher concentrations of THC and drug tourism have challenged the current policy and led to a re-examination of the current approach.[2] Pragmatism is a philosophic school that originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Sanders Peirce, who first stated the pragmatic maxim. ... initiative, see Initiative (disambiguation). ... A Cannabis sativa plant The drug cannabis, also called marijuana, is produced from parts of the cannabis plant, primarily the cured flowers and gathered trichomes of the female plant. ... The acronym THC has several possible meanings: Teens Hate Chains, a Japanese singing group Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active ingredient in Cannabis Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, extracted from Turmeric as an active ingredient in cosmetics Texas Historical Commission Therapeutic Humane Cannabis Act Thermohaline circulation The History Channel Terminal Handling Charges This page concerning a... Drug tourism is considered to be when one travels in order to procure narcotics. ...


Public health

The Dutch drug policy is based on the general principle of self-determination in matters of the body. Specifically, that it is not illegal to hurt yourself; however, you remain liable for the consequences of your actions. Because of this, users are not prosecuted for possession of small quantities of soft drugs ("for personal use"). In later years, the Netherlands have seen an increasing number of people seeking voluntary help for their problems with cannabis use, +43% from 2001 to 2005.[3] Driving under the influence of drugs is prohibited, as is being under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a public place. Grain alcohol redirects here. ...

Hard drugs/soft drugs

Cannabis museum in Amsterdam
Cannabis museum in Amsterdam

A distinction is drawn between hard drugs (which bear "unacceptable" risks; e.g. cocaine, LSD, heroin, etc.) and soft drugs such as the psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms as well as cannabis and hash (as defined in the Dutch Opium Law). The distinction is drawn on whether the substance is only psychologically addictive (i.e. producing no worse effect than moderate craving when withdrawn) or also physically addictive or deemed medically obsolete. One of the main aims of this policy is to separate the markets for soft and hard drugs so that soft drug users are less likely to come into contact with hard drugs. This policy also aims to take the soft drug market out of the hands of the criminals, thus reducing crime. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 450 × 600 pixelsFull resolution‎ (2,304 × 3,072 pixels, file size: 1. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 450 × 600 pixelsFull resolution‎ (2,304 × 3,072 pixels, file size: 1. ... Hard and soft drugs are loose categories of psychoactive drugs. ... Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. ... Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly called LSD, LSD-25, or acid. ... For other uses, see Heroin (disambiguation). ... The term soft drug is given sometimes to a range of drugs that are supposed to be less harmful than other drugs, called hard drugs. ... Magic mushrooms are also known as sacred mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, and, more generally, hallucinogenic mushrooms. ... This article is about the plant genus Cannabis. ... Look up hash in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up policy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

So-called coffee shops are allowed to sell soft drugs openly to customers above 18 years,[4] and to keep supplies greater than the amounts allowed by law for personal use, though they are only allowed to sell individual customers the amount allowed for personal use. The coffeeshops' wholesale suppliers, however, are still criminalized. In theory, the limit of the "for personal use" clause is 5 cannabis plants per person for growing, or possession of 5 grams of hashish or marijuana per household. However, to be prosecuted one would need to possess considerably higher quantities than that. An example of a sentence in 2004 for possession of 360 grams: confiscation and a fine of €750. Coffeeshops pay taxes just like any other business, though there are some special exemptions for them, mostly because they cannot show receipts for their supply of marijuana. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Large-scale dealing, production, import and export are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, even if this does not supply end users or coffeeshops with more than the allowed amounts. Exactly how coffeeshops get their supplies is rarely investigated, however. What is certain is that coffeeshops do sell cannabis that comes from countries where it is illegal. The average concentration of THC in the cannabis sold in the coffee shops has increased from 9% 1998 to 18% 2005.[5] One of the reasons is plant breeding and use of green house technology for illegal growing of marijuana in Netherlands.[5] Large suppliers tend to be criminals motivated by profit who do not make the distinction between hard and soft drugs.[citation needed] The soft drug policy is not without flaws. It fails to address the issue of supply, which can promote problems of its own, such as the involvement of other drugs. Creating a highly controlled, legal production chain for cannabis to combat this problem has been proposed by a number of Dutch politicians over the last few years. By the end of 2005, the majority of the Dutch Parliament was in favour of an experiment with controlled cultivation and production of cannabis. The recent minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner announced in June 2007 that cultivation of cannabis shall continue to be illegal.[6] The acronym THC has several possible meanings: Teens Hate Chains, a Japanese singing group Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active ingredient in Cannabis Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, extracted from Turmeric as an active ingredient in cosmetics Texas Historical Commission Therapeutic Humane Cannabis Act Thermohaline circulation The History Channel Terminal Handling Charges This page concerning a... Plant breeding is the purposeful manipulation of plant species in order to create desired genotypes and phenotypes for specific purposes. ... The Tweede Kamer (second chamber) is the lower house of the Staten-Generaal, the parliament in the Netherlands. ...


Cannabis remains a controlled substance in the Netherlands and both possession and production for personal use are still misdemeanors, punishable by fine. Coffee shops are also technically illegal according to the statutes but, as has been said, are flourishing nonetheless. A misdemeanor, or misdemeanour, in many common law legal systems, is a lesser criminal act. ...

However, a policy of non-enforcement has led to a situation where reliance upon non-enforcement has become common, and because of this the courts have ruled against the government when individual cases were prosecuted.

This is because the Dutch Ministry of Justice applies a gedoogbeleid (policy of tolerance or allowance policy) with regard to soft drugs: an official set of guidelines telling public prosecutors under which circumstances offenders should not be prosecuted. This is a more official version of the common practice in other countries, in which law enforcement sets priorities as to which offenses are important enough to spend limited resources on. The Netherlands is a civil law country. ...

Proponents of gedoogbeleid argue that such a policy offers more consistency in legal protection in practice, than without it. Opponents of the Dutch drug policy either call for full legalization, or argue that laws should penalize morally wrong or decadent behavior, whether this is enforceable or not.

In the Dutch courts, however, it has long been determined that the institutionalized non-enforcement of statutes with well defined limits constitutes de facto decriminalization. The statutes are kept on the books mainly due to international pressure and in adherence with international treaties. De facto is a Latin expression that means in fact or in practice. It is commonly used as opposed to de jure (meaning by law) when referring to matters of law or governance or technique (such as standards), that are found in the common experience as created or developed without...

Drug law enforcement

Despite the high priority given by the Dutch government to fighting narcotics trafficking, the Netherlands continue to be an important transit point for drugs entering Europe, a major producer[7] and leading distributor of amphetamines[8] and other synthetic drugs, and a medium consumer of illicit drugs [9]. The export of the synthetic drug ecstasy to the U.S. during 1999 reached unprecedented proportions.[citation needed] The Netherlands' special synthetic drug unit, set up in 1997 to coordinate the fight against designer drugs, appears to be successful.[citation needed] The government has stepped up border controls and intensified cooperation with neighbouring countries. Amphetamine is a synthetic drug originally developed (and still used) as an appetite suppressant. ... MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), most commonly known by the street names ecstasy or XTC (for more names see the full list), is a synthetic entactogen of the phenethylamine family, whose primary effect is believed to be the stimulation of secretion as well as inhibition of re-uptake of large amounts... Designer drug is a term to used to describe psychoactive drugs which are created (or marketed, if they had already existed) to get around existing drug laws by modifying their molecular structures to varying degrees. ...

Although drug use, as opposed to trafficking, is seen primarily as a public health issue, responsibility for drug policy is shared by both the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sports, and the Ministry of Justice. Panamanian motor vessel Gatun during the largest cocaine bust in United States Coast Guard history (20 tons), off the coast of Panama. ...

In contrast with most countries' policies, the Dutch policy has yielded almost universally positive results in the "war against drugs." The Netherlands spends more than €130 million annually on facilities for addicts, of which about fifty percent goes to drug addicts. The Netherlands has extensive demand reduction programs, reaching about ninety percent of the country's 25,000 to 28,000 hard drug users. The number of hard drug addicts has stabilized in the past few years and their average age has risen to 38 years, which is generally seen as a positive trend. Notably, the number of drug-related deaths in the country remains the lowest in Europe.[citation needed]

On 27 November 2003, the Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner announced that his government was considering rules under which coffeeshops would only be allowed to sell soft drugs to Dutch residents in order to satisfy both European neighbours' concerns about the influx of drugs from the Netherlands, as well as those of Netherlands border town residents unhappy with the influx of "drug tourists" from elsewhere in Europe. As of 2006 nothing has come of this proposal and Dutch coffeehouses still enjoy robust foreign patronage. The proposal is unlikely to come to part in practice since refusing citizens of neighbouring nations any services of the sort conflicts with the European Union's policies surrounding the four freedoms. is the 331st day of the year (332nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... In European Union law, the Four Freedoms (sometimes the Four Liberties) are the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labour within the internal market of the European Union. ...

The results of drug policy in Netherlands

In the Netherlands 9.7% of young boys consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than as in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%).[citation needed] but much higher than in for ex. Sweden (3%), Finland or Greece.[1] Dutch rates of drug use are lower than U.S. rates in every category.[citation needed]

The number of deaths linked to the use of drugs in the Netherlands is the lowest in Europe.[citation needed] The Netherlands government is able to support approximately 90% of help seeking addicts with detoxification programs.

Another effect is a problem with an extensive drug tourism from other countries. Drug tourist are in many cases excluded from the drug related statistics from Netherlands.[citation needed] Drug tourism is considered to be when one travels in order to procure narcotics. ...

Criminal investigations into more serious forms of organized crime mainly involve drugs (72%). Most of these are investigations of hard drug crime (specifically cocaine and synthetic drugs) although the number of soft drug cases is rising and currently accounts for 41% of criminal investigations. [10]

Implications of international law

The Netherlands is a party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The 1961 convention prohibits cultivation and trade of naturally-occurring drugs such as cannabis; the 1971 treaty bans the manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs such as barbiturates and amphetamines; and the 1988 convention requires states to criminalize illicit drug possession: Year 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs Opened for signature March 30, 1961 at New York Entered into force December 13, 1964[1] Conditions for entry into force 40 ratifications Parties 180[2] The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is the international treaty against illicit drug manufacture and trafficking that forms the... Convention on Psychotropic Substances Opened for signature February 21, 1971 in Vienna Entered into force August 16, 1976 Conditions for entry into force 40 ratifications Parties 175 The Convention on Psychotropic Substances is a United Nations treaty designed to control psychoactive drugs such as amphetamines, barbiturates, and psychedelics. ... United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Opened for signature December 20, 1988[1] at Vienna Entered into force November 11, 1990[2] Conditions for entry into force 20 ratifications Parties 170[3] The 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and...

Subject to its constitutional principles and the basic concepts of its legal system, each Party shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to establish as a criminal offence under its domestic law, when committed intentionally, the possession, purchase or cultivation of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances for personal consumption contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention, the 1961 Convention as amended or the 1971 Convention.

The International Narcotics Control Board typically interprets this provision to mean that states must prosecute drug possession offenses. The conventions clearly state that controlled substances are to be restricted to scientific and medical uses. However, Cindy Fazey, former Chief of Demand Reduction for the United Nations Drug Control Programme, believes that the treaties have enough ambiguities and loopholes to allow some room to maneuver. In her report entitled The Mechanics and Dynamics of the UN System for International Drug Control, she notes: Mr. ... Cindy Fazey is a criminologist and former Chief of Demand Reduction for the United Nations Drug Control Programme. ... The United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention (CICP) are part of the United Nations Office for Drug Control & Crime Prevention (ODCCP). ...

Many countries have now decided not to use the full weight of criminal sanctions against people who are in possession of drugs that are for their personal consumption. The Conventions say that there must be an offence under domestic criminal law, it does not say that the law has to be enforced, or that when it is what sanctions should apply. . . . Despite such grey areas latitude is by no means unlimited. The centrality of the principle of limiting narcotic and psychotropic drugs for medical and scientific purposes leaves no room for the legal possibility of recreational use. . . . Nations may currently be pushing the boundaries of the international system, but the pursuit of any action to formally legalize non-medical and non-scientific drug use would require either treaty revision or a complete or partial withdrawal from the current regime.

The Netherlands policy of keeping anti-drug laws on the books while limiting enforcement of certain offenses is carefully designed to reduce harm while still complying with the letter of international drug control treaties. This is necessary in order to avoid criticism from the International Narcotics Board, which historically has taken a dim view of any moves to relax official drug policy. In their annual report, the Board has criticised many governments, including Canada, for permitting the medicinal use of cannabis, Australia for providing injecting rooms and the United Kingdom for proposing to downgrade the classification of cannabis,[1] which it has since done.

Recent developments

In 2005, Gerd Leers, mayor of the border city of Maastricht, criticised the current policy as inconsistent, by recording a song with the Dutch punk rock band De Heideroosjes. By allowing possession and retail sales of cannabis, but not cultivation or wholesale, the government creates numerous problems of crime and public safety, he alleges, and therefore he would like to switch to either legalising and regulating production, or to the full repression that his party (CDA) officially advocates. The latter suggestion has widely been interpreted as rhetorical.[2] Leers's comments have garnered support from other local authorities and put the cultivation issue back on the agenda. Burgemeester Gerd Leers Gerd Leers is the mayor of Maastricht, Netherlands. ... Coordinates: , Country Province Area (2006)  - Municipality 60. ... The Heideroosjes (pronounced; hi-duh-rose-yes, HR in short), is a punk band from Horst aan de Maas, the Netherlands. ... The Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA, Christian Democratic Appeal) is a political party of the Netherlands that was established in 1980. ...

By 2009, 27 coffee shops selling cannabis in Rotterdam, all within 200 meters from schools, must close down. This is nearly half of the coffeeshops that currently operate within its municipality. This is due to a new policy of city mayor Ivo Opstelten and the town council.[11] The higher levels of the active ingredient in marijuana in Netherlands create a growing opposition against the traditional Dutch view of cannabis as a relatively innocent soft drug.[12] Closing of coffee shops is not unique for Rotterdam. Many other towns has done the same in the last 10 years. Nickname: Motto: Sterker door strijd (Stronger through Struggle) Location of Rotterdam Coordinates: , Country Province Government  - Mayor Ivo Opstelten  - Aldermen Jeannette Baljeu Hamit Karakus Orhan Kaya Lucas Bolsius Jantine Kriens Dominic Schrijer Roelf de Boer Leonard Geluk Area [1]  - Total 319 km² (123. ...

On October 11th, 2007, Dutch authorities agreed to ban the sale of psylocybin (magic mushrooms). Dutch health and justice ministers said that they have agreed to change the drugs laws to ban the sale and cultivation of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a psychedelic alkaloid of the tryptamine family. ...

The decision comes during an ongoing debate in the Netherlands about the safety of the so-called 'magic mushrooms' after a number of incidents involving tourists who had used them. There have been a rise in incidents with hallucinogenic mushrooms reported by emergency services; in 2004, 55 incidents were reported, which rose to 128 in 2006. This year there are over 100 incidents already reported, predominantly in the Amsterdam area.

In March 2007 a 17-year-old French girl died after she threw herself from an Amsterdam bridge. She had eaten magic mushrooms, but no direct parallels were drawn from her mushroom use to her death. The health ministry expects the ban to come into effect in the next few months after it has been approved by the parliament and the senate. The ban was called for by a majority in the Dutch parliament after the incident with the French tourist.

The change in the Dutch drug laws will mean that both growing and selling magic mushrooms will be banned and so-called 'smartshops' that are selling them will be closed down. About 39 of around 180 so called 'smart shops' sell the mushrooms in the Netherlands, and the Dutch market for hallucinogenic mushrooms is allegedly worth some 10 million euros (14 million dollars) annually. In the Netherlands the sale of dried magic mushrooms is banned but fresh mushrooms are allowed.[13]

See also

Cannabis sativa extract. ... The prohibition of drugs is a subject of considerable controversy. ... Designer drug is a term to used to describe psychoactive drugs which are created (or marketed, if they had already existed) to get around existing drug laws by modifying their molecular structures to varying degrees. ...



  2. ^ BBC: Dutch cannabis policy challenged, 2007
  3. ^ LADIS Nieuwsflits, Cannabishulpvraag in de ambulante verslavingszorg 2001 - 2005
  4. ^ Coffeshop
  5. ^ a b Word Drug report, 2006, Chapter 2.3
  6. ^ Netherlands remains opposed to legalization of cannabis cultivation
  7. ^ UNODC: Seizures laboratories, page 7
  8. ^ UNODC: World Drug report 2007, page 131
  9. ^ Diagram with use of Cocaine per land
  10. ^ Trimbosis Institute: Cannabis use stable, but treatment demand rising; National Drug Monitor Annual Report 2006 (19-06-2007)
  11. ^ Washington Post Changing Patterns in Social Fabric Test Netherlands
  12. ^ Steeds meer tieners zoeken hulp voor wietverslaving 2007
  13. ^ link title

General references

  • Bewley-Taylor, David R. and Fazey, Cindy S. J.: The Mechanics and Dynamics of the UN System for International Drug Control, 14 March 2003.

is the 73rd day of the year (74th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

  • EMCDDA ELDD European Legal Map on Possession of cannabis for personal use
  • Explanation of the Dutch drugs policy for tourist
  • 2000-2001 Progress Report on the Drug Policy of the Netherlands (pdf)
  • Article on Amsterdam drug scene
  • NL Planet - Dutch Soft Drugs Policy
  • "Gedogen" - active Dutch tolerance.
  • "Holland's Half-Baked Drug Experiment"
  • "The National Institute of the Netherlands in the field of mental health and dependency care (in Dutch)"

  Results from FactBites:
Drug policy : The Netherlands [Illicit drugs and alcohol] (426 words)
Drug use in the Netherlands is seen as a normal social problem and illicit drug users as patients in need of treatment and support rather than criminals.
Historically, the Netherlands was involved in the trade of opium and coca and it wasn't until 1919 that, mainly due to international pressure, the first efforts to restrict the trade were undertaken.
Hard drug were seen to present a significant risk to the community, whilst the risk from soft drugs was significantly lower.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m