No Credit Check Payday Loans



JoomlaWatch Agent

Visitors hit counter, stats, email report, location on a map, SEO for Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal, Magento and Prestashop

JoomlaWatch Users

JoomlaWatch Visitors

54% United States  United States
11.2% United Kingdom  United Kingdom
5.9% Australia  Australia
5.6% Canada  Canada
3.3% Philippines  Philippines
2.2% Kuwait  Kuwait
2.1% India  India
1.6% Germany  Germany
1.5% Netherlands  Netherlands
1.1% France  France

Today: 117
Yesterday: 310
This Week: 1480
Last Week: 2303
This Month: 5292
Last Month: 5638
Total: 24057

PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 0
Articles - Crime, police & trafficking
Written by Mario Lap   
Thursday, 05 December 1996 00:00

Mario Lap, The International Foundation on Drug Policy and Human Rights

In the field of substance use and addiction in the Netherlands a number of developments have received a lot of attention by press, politics and science during the last few years.

These developments can be divided into two groups:
1. Developments concerning substances or risky behaviour primarily governed by forms of administrative legislation, such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling.
2. Developments concerning substances primarily governed by criminal law, such as cannabis, heroin and MDMA.

Concerning most of the subjects mentioned and of both groups, a new priority has emerged, the so called public order. At the same time Dutch policy on illegal drugs faces increasing pressure because of the changed international context. The agreements and coordination of drug policy in Europe, under the Agreement and Treaty of Schengen, have gone in a direction threatening to undermine Dutch liberal drug policy. Although how national governments combat drugs still on the whole remains their own responsibility, a policy differentiating between hard and soft drugs (according to Dutch law legally soft drugs are hashish and marijuana, all other drugs being considered hard drugs or drugs with unacceptable health risks) has been rejected and tolerant countries are not to harm the more repressive policy of neighbouring countries.* Furthermore a phenomenon which is nowadays described by the word 'drug-tourism' has played an important role in both recent developments and international criticism.

Besides international developments, political-cultural influences, such as biased media coverage and electoral aspects, have contributed to an atmosphere in which drugs and drug users, but especially hard drug addicts, are seen as increasingly threatening. They often are when observed from the context of crime and criminality. In both the streets and penitentiary institutions of the Netherlands one simply wants to get rid of addicted hard drug users. In this respect it is highly questionable whether drug-related crime or other damage to society by this group has increased to an extent that justifies such changes of views and approaches.

A much larger threat to economic order and therefore society as a whole comes from the enormous profits for organised crime made in the illegal drug trade, according to many experts. Supporters of drug legalisation, such as most of the police chiefs in the Netherlands as well as many business executives and scientists, therefore point to the fact that the 'war on drugs' is a failure and call for change (Chairman Commander Brand of the Council of Dutch Police Chiefs, The Hague, has made this point - like many others under oath) when questioned by the parliamentary investigation commission.

I will try to restrict myself to actual policy applied in the Netherlands, in the context of this discourse, hopefully providing the reader with an impression of the current Dutch 'climate' which is based on official government reaction and reports rather than opinions of experts, scientists, scholars, politicians or media. Although media and others mostly tend to emphasise developments concerning illegal psychotropic substances, I will deal briefly with some relevant facts on recent alcohol, gambling and tobacco policy first.


For some time now a renewal of the outdated Drank HorecaWet (alcohol catering act) has been discussed and a draft text of law for this purpose was distributed to the various parties concerned for comments. Awaiting the definite text of this act a discussion on bar opening hours was started in several Dutch municipalities to which numerous organisations, including several government agencies, the Foundation for Sensible Alcohol Consumption (STIVA), Catering Trade Organisation (Horeca nederland), Association of Dutch Cities (VNG), the Nether lands Institute on Alcohol and Drugs (NIAD) and many organisations in treatment and education have made important contributions. As a result of these discussions towns have come up with opposite solutions. Some towns have introduced deregulation by means of 'free' opening hours in combination with a checklist for police enforcement and institutionalised discussion with bar entrepreneurs, in order to limit disturbances of public order in neighbourhoods where other towns have done exactly the opposite and restricted opening hours for very much the same reasons. Nationally, however, it is safe to state that there is a trend towards deregulation and free opening hours often accompanied by covenants and/or agreements of local authorities such as city government and police with individual or groups of alcohol catering entrepreneurs.

Gambling in state-controlled casinos was introduced in the Netherlands with the 1914 change to the Games of Chance Act of 1964 and, through the 1985 change, gambling machines were legalised all over the country. These machines were soon found in 'amusement halls', bars, tobacco stores and snack bars, and the recent phenomenon of problematic gambling or even 'gambling addiction' is often linked to easy accessibility and great temptation of these machines particularly for minors. In police reports on juvenile delinquents one indeed reads 'I used the money stolen to play the fruit machine' more often than 'I needed the money for the use of drugs'.

As a reaction to these problems both municipal and national policies were developed. Towns in the Netherlands have reacted to the problem with a variety of measures such as reports, voluntary covenants and agreements between town government and entrepreneurs and/or municipal regulations. These various regulations and agreements are commonly described by means of a three number code such as, for example, 2-1-0. The first number stands for the maximum number of machines allowed in alcohol catering bars, the second number for the maximum number allowed in non alcohol catering facilities and the last for the maximum number allowed in sporting club and/or neighbourhood centres.

In February 1994 a decision for a national change of policy regarding gambling machines was made which is to be introduced gradually over a period of 3 years. A minimum age of 18 years for gambling machines is to come into force and gambling machines will be restricted to the state-controlled casinos, gambling halls and alcohol catering bars. When fully active this will mean a national 2 0 0 policy.

With tobacco there have been some recent developments which are based on the Tobacco Act oƒ 1988, the Administrative Order limiting the sale and use of tobacco products of 28 December 1989 and the Guideline by the European Council of 17 May 1990. Since 1 January 1990 smoking is prohibited in rooms of several institutions and organisations that are accessible to the general public or designated for public use. These institutions are summed up in an appendix to the Guideline of the Secretary of State responsible for Welfare, Public Health and Culture of 20 October 1989.

• Institutions, services and enterprises controlled by the State, public offices, the provinces and municipalities.
• Public health-related institutions.
• Social, cultural and community organisations
• Sport-related organisations
• Education related organisations.

In most cases the sale of tobacco products on the premises of these organisations was also prohibited starting at the same date. The prohibitive measures mentioned are motivated by a desired prevention o health damage and nuisance caused by tobacco smoke for non-smokers as well as limitation of smoking in general. They are based on advice from the National Health Council of 21 April 1989. The European Guideline mentioned above is an instrument aiming at harmonisation of legal and administrative regulations on maximum tar content for cigarettes by the EC member states. The maximum tar content per cigarette sold is set at 15 mg since 3 December 1992 throughout the entire EC, except for Greece, and is to be lowered to 12 mg by 31 December 1997.


On 15 September 1995, the long awaited drug report signed by Dutch ministers Borst (Health), Sorgdrager (Justice) and Secretary of State Kohnstamm (Internal Affairs) was finally released under the name 'The Drug Policy of the Netherlands: Continuity and Change'. Although progressive changes were expected based on both the party programme of the responsible ministers and earlier interviews with them and influential MPs, the report does not really distinguish itself from most official documents on drugs from both the Netherlands and elsewhere. It simply lacks substantial solutions. It is incomplete regarding sources used and non creative. It is there fore hard to describe it other than with the word 'rhetoric'. It seems that just as the political will was there the civil servants responsible suddenly suffered cold feet.

I will deal with the various relevant subjects in Dutch policy on illegal drugs now by observing developments over recent years and then concluding with the contents of the new government report on these subjects

Organised crime and methods of police investigation
As mentioned before in an article in an earlier issue of this journal (Lap and Drucker, 1994, p. 249), Dutch police, like police forces elsewhere, are entangled in an ever intensifying battle against organised crime trafficking illicit substances. As a result of location and other elements, amounts of illegal drugs shipped via the Netherlands and therefore seizures by Dutch police are substantial. In the process of combating organised crime, Dutch police have introduced various new undercover investigation teams. Some of these teams have used infiltration methods with enormous political impact when made public. One specific 'police method' (cooperation with the importation of substantial amounts of cannabis products and even cocaine to 'grow' into a criminal organisation) has in fact led to the resignation of two ministers and the Amsterdam prosecutor general as well as a multi-million guilder parliamentary investigation.

In spite of the fact that the parliamentary investigation of several months with full TV coverage is still going on, the government report concludes that the special police teams are increasingly successful before stating that further plans have to wait for the outcome of the parliamentary investigation. Th report furthermore emphasises an international cooperation and efficiency in the battle against the illicit drug trade, as it concludes that the legal instruments for international investigation and prosecution need no further additions.

Hard drug-tourism
A good example of a regional drug policy, ending up in a negative spiral as a result of interacting transnational and public order elements, is shown, by the events around the closure of the 'Perron Nul' open scene project for hard drug addicts and later 'Operation Victor' in Rotterdam.

Reverend Visser of the Paulus church in Rotterdam has for many years functioned successfully in the front-line of drug prohibition and hard drug addiction with his low threshold care for problematic hard drug addicts in the Paulus church. The reverend was the base for an open-scene project next to the Central Train Station in Rotterdam called 'Perron Nul' ('Platform Zero'). Although there were negative aspects to this project, such as its location, it had several advantages concerning public order, not the least of which is the fact that problems were confined to this location. After closure by the City government problems have indeed spread over the city causing much greater public order problems and nuisance in residential areas.

As a result of the complaints by the residents of these areas and the phenomenon of so-called drug runners (on the highway between the Belgian border and Rotterdam - the Hazeldonk Route Lille, Antwerp, Rotterdam - there have been incidents and arrests concerning groups soliciting through use of their ability to bring potential customers to 'dealers' selling hard drugs in Rotterdam; by doing this they caused dangerous traffic conditions) , but especially as a result of the pressure by the French authorities, Rotterdam police have launched a large-scale police operation against hard drug addresses, dealers, users and traffickers this summer called Operation Victor.

The recent government report deals with the so called hard drug-tourism phenomenon, mentioning this kind of inter-European shopping as causing problems in several towns on the eastern and southern borders of the Netherlands, such as Arnhem, Venlo, Heerlen and Maastricht. The phenomenon, according to the report, is usually accompanied by aggressive ways of soliciting (drugs runners), public order disturbances and unacceptable nuisance to residential areas and town centres.

The Rotterdam Operation Victor is judged positively in the report because of its integral approach. This repressive policy, with closures of addresses where hard drugs are dealt, arrests of hundreds of foreign drug tourists and runners, is to be continued in the years to come. The report emphasises a shift in attention to the arrest and prosecution of the people in charge of the drug runners and dealers at hard drug addresses. The Dutch government emphasises the recently initiated cooperation of Belgian, French and Dutch police and justice officials as preventing and combating further hard drug tourism.

Force and pressure
The Dutch government, by means of its 1988 report named 'Force and Pressure', has attempted to produce a survey on the possibilities of guiding addicts towards treatment. In this report the legal possibilities in healthcare and criminal justice are strictly distinguished.

In the discussion during recent years about this report, however, a shift in policy making from public health to criminal justice can be detected. This can be contrasted with the 1985 report 'Drug Policy in Motion', subtitled 'Toward Normalisation of Drug Related Problems'. For the starting point of this policy is the fight against nuisance, drug-related crime and violations of the law rather than the prevention of health damage. I have to state here that instruments from the 'force and pressure' toolbox can be applied to people addicted to legal vices such as alcohol and games of chance as well. However, the policy was created in reaction to the 'nuisance' caused and because of addicted users of illegal substances committing crimes to get money for their drugs of choice. This shift towards an emphasis on crime and nuisance cannot be based on an increase in the number of addicts. Many studies show that it is a small part of the total number of addicted hard drug users who cause a disproportionate number of problems.

For example, the Straatjunkenproject (street junkie project), started in 1989 in the city of Amsterdam, aims at a limitation of the nuisance and/or criminal behaviour of addicts to illegal narcotics through a choice between detention and treatment. According to the 1992 report, the project is a success from a criminal justice objective. Although some scepticism should be used when we regard the figures of people 'treated', we cannot deny that a number of useful supplementary facilities were created through this project. Places in unemployment benefit control were made available, settlements were made for fines, residences were made available for addicts willing to resocialise and more places were reserved for people wanting to kick their addiction.

A similar project was launched in 1994 in the city of Utrecht. This project is a 3-year experiment, based on the cooperation of police, justice and addiction treatment. Addicts who have committed such crimes that they comply with the standards of the experiment are offered a choice between detention and treatment. The experiment is aimed at people addicted to illicit drugs, alcohol or gambling with five criminal precedents and is based on police records. The participants-police, justice and health care-according to the project report, make a contribution to a decrease of nuisance, as desired by national and regional government, through their cooperation. As opposed to the Amsterdam project, voluntary entrance to the experiment is not as yet possible in Utrecht. Nuisance, by the way, seems a somewhat confusing term in this context, because the target group consists of addicts who have committed various and numerous crimes. Therefore a new label is introduced in the plan - 'criminal nuisance'.

Several reports were made on Drugs in Penitentiary Institutions and especially the ones dealing with the DVAs (Drug Free Prison Departments) should be paid some attention in this context. For example, the survey by the University of Nijmegen Research Group on Addictive Behaviours (UNRAB, 1994) 'Evaluation of Drug Users in Detention', produce both critical notes and possibly useful recommendations. The researchers, even apart from the cost involved which are considered very high, have strong doubts about the feasibility of a penitentiary drug treatment regime which provides an effective contribution to the reintegration of detained drug users Nevertheless, they state that the results of the various partial surveys provide sufficient grounds for continuation into the direction taken with the implementation of the DVAs. This positive judgement is based on an improvement of the so called detention climate as well as of care aspects of the execution of sentences. According to the researchers, DVAs provide many drug users with a chance to experience what it is like to be free of drugs in a protected environment. Furthermore, special care is offered to addicted prisoners who often have severe problems - which has positive results from a humanitarian objective. Another positive result of the DVAs, according to the researchers, is the follow-up care after detention realised for a large group. Rightly, the researchers point out the danger of DVAs confronting addicts with overly strict demands concerning motivation based on, for example, the 1994 Policy Report 'Useful Detention'. If selections are made based on an appeal to the responsibility of addicted prisoners, the result will be general prison departments occupied with a disproportionate number of addicted drug users and DVAs having more capacity than needed.

Some attention should also be paid to the new Legislation on the Admission to Mental Institutions (BOPZ, 1994). Although this new Act has not brought about any fundamental changes to the situation concerning forced admission of drug addicts, as long as it is generally understood that an addict is not to be considered insane, not accountable or incapable because of his or her addiction by itself, forced admission exclusively on the grounds of addiction seems impossible. A new element, however, provided for by this Act, is the possibility for an addict of making a request of the Court, through the prosecution, asking for an admission for him or herself. As described in the government report 'Force and Pressure', mentioned above: 'A treatment plan is to be made by the psychiatrist of the hospital of admission with the consent of the addict.' Based on this treatment plan the Court can authorise an admission to the psychiatric hospital in question for a period from 6 to 12 months. That way a hospital can also continue admission of an addict against his or her will.

Apart from the question of the efficacy of such an 'auto-paternalistic' (Berghmans, 1993) approach there is good reason to have some doubts about the legal consequences. Especially when the decision of the addict in question was made having to choosebetween detention or admission (European Court c Human Rights in Casu Deweer No.561,27 February 1980 and other cases).

Maintenance programmes
As specific groups of older addicted people are barely reached or not adequately helped by methadone programmes, the issue of provision of drugs of choice was raised in the Netherlands some time ago.

Another important consideration is the possible decrease in crime and nuisance that such programmes could provide according to the opinion of several 'experts'. The Dutch Minister of Health El Borst therefore requested the National Health Council for a report on the possibilities of an experiment with heroin prescription .

After hearing Swiss colleagues, visiting Swiss clinics where heroin prescription is taking place and extensive studies, the Council reported positively on such experiments to the Minister in the Spring of 1995. More specific plans were developed in several towns in the Netherlands awaiting the General Drug Report by the Ministers of Health and Justice.

The recent government report deals with these subjects in Chapter 3 'Prevention, care and treatment of addicts', paragraph 3.6 named 'Force and pressure in addiction-care', and paragraph 3.7 called 'Medically indicated maintenance'. Dutch drug policy, according to the report, will continue along the lines set out by the earlier government reports with respect to public order and nuisance control. Force and pressure are the main elements in this approach and several initiatives in this direction are supported, such as an increase of social lodgings, increase in early phase probation intervention projects, development of task sanctions for addicts, increase of Drug-Free Prison Departments (DVAs) and last but not least a Forensic Addiction Clinic (FVK) with 70 'beds'. This specialised addiction clinic, which will consist of an open and closed phase, will target its efforts at addicted detainees who can be treated but of whom the nature of the addiction, the severity of the criminal acts committed, the personality structure and medical records are of such nature that admission to open treatment institutions is not advisable.

Two hundred new prison cells will be available for force and pressure projects in this year and another 500 in 1996 and the capacity of the DVAs will be increased from 300 to 620. Furthermore, a new application of an old article in the Dutch criminal code is to be introduced enabling short-term admissions of addicts committing petty crime to closed setting care programmes.

Maintenance programmes involving heroin are to be restricted to one experiment with a small group of extremely deviant and seriously ill addicts, according to the report. However, fortunately, recently a commission of all major Dutch political parties upon arrival from a visit to the Swiss heroin maintenance clinics called for extension of the plans to more than one facility and social-medical indication.

Dance drugs
Because they had signed the psychotropic substances treaty of Vienna 1988, and as a result of international pressure, especially from the UK and sheer surprise, the reaction of the Dutch government, when confronted with MDMA use and production, was an immediate prohibition in 1989. The Dutch Narcotic Act gave the Secretary of State no choice in such a situation but to put the substance on list I of the Narcotics Act, thereby making it a hard drug. As another variant of this substance (MDEA) appeared on the market an identical reaction followed also prohibiting this substance.

In the Netherlands, as well as elsewhere, the use of the substance sold under the name XTC is usually linked to a youth culture phenomenon that appeared in the late 1980s. House parties or raves. Based on 'streetcornerwork'-like activities at these events and extensive monitoring, by the Safe House Campaign, of the scene and market, advice was given to both local and national government. Based on this advice a policy for local government to deal with the phenomenon was developed. Accordingly the following requirements are to be met when allowing such events:

• Air-conditioning limiting temperature
• Medical care post
• Tablet testing
• Free drinking water
• Chill out room
• Check for weapons on entry.

The recent government report with respect to party drugs does not contribute much to the above except for the concern expressed by the Minister of Health regarding the use of party drugs. Practices as mentioned above are now mentioned in a ministerial manual 'Town Hall and House' and the existing drug-monitoring projects will be expanded.

As a result of the prohibition of Khat's active ingredient catinine, as well as the presence of a community using Khat and active Khat trading, mainly by Somalian refugees, the following legal question arose in the Netherlands in 1994: Is Khat a prohibited plant according to the Dutch Narcotic Law because it contains catinine? This question was answered negatively by the Court of Haarlem following advice to that effect by the Ministry of Health as well as the various help and care institutions in the Netherlands. The advice was mainly founded on the perception that Khat is not a very dangerous substance and the users of this substance have developed use patterns in their home countries, whereas they have not developed such patterns for the main substance of use in Western culture - alcohol. Prohibiting Khat and making its use impossible would therefore drive these people, often already having been victims of all kinds of persecution in their own countries, towards the use of alcohol.

The Netherlands is known internationally for its tolerant drug policy. Although foreign politicians sometimes complain about this policy for election purposes and some foreign government agencies even tend to lie about it for unknown reasons, understanding and appreciation of the Dutch approach are also increasing.

The regulation of cannabis 'coffeeshops' through the use of prosecution guidelines is generally considered the corner-stone of overall Dutch drug policy. The philosophy behind this policy is the division of the cannabis and the other drug markets which seems rather successful (Cohen et al., 1994).

The above-mentioned prosecution guidelines are called the AHOJ-G guidelines
A = no advertisement, public display of products etc.
H = no hard drugs (in the legal sense, meaning all illegal drugs but cannabis)
O = no nuisance and/or disturbance of public order
J = no sale to minors (< 18 years of age)
G = no whole sale (a maximum of 30 grams per transaction).

The guidelines were officially confirmed by the Minister of Justice in early 1995. These guidelines are produced by the Dutch Prosecutors General of whom there are five. In this case the Minister of Justice Winnie Sorgdrager confirmed the guidelines produced in 1991 and they have been policy ever since.

Where the government reports ( the independent 'Hulsman' report initiating the 1973 Baan Report on which the 1976 Opium Act is based) on which current legislation and policy were originally based clearly emphasised the social and health condition of users in cannabis policy, the accent is shifting more and more towards prevention of nuisance, control and manageability. Some specific aspects concerning the Dutch policy on marijuana and coffeeshops should be briefly dealt with in this context. Because of the very nature of this policy, decriminalisation and application of the expediency and priority principles in Dutch criminal law, ergo not full legalisation, several problems have emerged which in my view can only be tackled through further regulation.

Because of the legal nature of 'coffeeshops', unlike alcohol catering bars, towns have no means of limiting the number of coffeeshops or designating locations. Although new legislation was passed giving municipal governments some possibilities for regulation (Besluit Horecabedrijven Hinderwet or Administrative Order Catering Enterprises Nuisance Legislation), Horecaverordeningen or Municipal Bye-Laws on Catering Enterprises, and APVs (General City Bye-Laws), it is still impossible to use city planning to pinpoint locations where coffee shops should and should not be located or, for example, to set a maximum number of coffeeshops.

Another problem that appeared recently concerned social security. The question that came up was: 'Is someone selling hashish and marijuana in coffeeshops obliged to be insured according to Dutch social security legislation such as the Health Act, Unemployment Act and the Unfitness for Work Act? Two Trade Organisations disagreed about the question as some Amsterdam coffeeshops wanted to enter their 'house dealers' into the social security system by means of payment of the obligatory employer's contributions. One Trade Organisation (Horeca Bond = catering trade) expressed the opinion that in this case there is an obligation of social insurance whereas the other (DETAM = retail trade, craft an housewives) disagreed. The Horeca Organisation argued that judgements over cases such as this are to be made based on the actual situation, i.e. when the employment or work relationship is a legal employment relationship, there is also an obligation for employers to comply with the employment legislation as far as insurance is concerned.

Under Dutch law an employment relationship is considered to be present when three requirement are met:

1. A relationship of authority between employer and employee.
2. Salary is paid by the employer.
3. The employee is obliged to perform the labour personally and cannot be replaced by others al will.

The Horeca organisation argued that, when a dealer of 'soft drugs' in a coffeeshop meets these requirements, the obligation of social security is also present. The other trade organisation ( DETAM ) did not deny that the actual requirements were correctly summed up by the Horeca organisation, but expressed the opinion that, in this case, one simply could not get round the judgement on these requirements. Selling soft drugs is prohibited by the Narcotics Act (Opiumwet) and therefore it is to be considered a violation of Public Order, argued the DETAM. According to article 3:40 of the Dutch Civil Code, legal acts violating public morality or order are void. Therefore in the case of someone selling soft drugs you cannot get round the judgement on the requirements for obligatory social insurance. The existence of a policy tolerating the sale of soft drugs was considered irrelevant by the DETAM because selling marijuana remains a punishable act according to prevailing legal opinion.

The TICA (arbitrary and coordination institute of the trade organisations) was consulted to save the situation through a decision. The TICA concluded that there is a social security obligation when the requirements for contracting an employment relationship, or work relationship, are met. The TICA arrived at this position after consulting the Ministry of Justice. Although selling soft drugs is a violation of the law, this does not mean that it is a violation of Public Order. In fact the National Permissive Policy in place is intended to prevent violations of public order. This argument is further more based on the National Guideline of the Prosecution as published in the Government Gazette of October 1994. According to these guidelines no criminal action will be taken against coffeeshops when they comply with specific criteria. The TICA has also consulted the Tax department to see how they deal with soft drug sellers because the principle of employment is important in the scope of Employment Tax legislation also. The Tax department expresses the opinion that the regulations of the Civil Code constitute no obstacles in the case of the sale of soft drugs in coffeeshops so that one may assume an employment relationship. Because of these events the TICA produced national advice to the trade organisations in July 1995. They advised them to consider that the soft drug sellers in coffeeshops, who comply with the guidelines of the permissive policy, have obligatory social insurance according to employment legislation, so that these sellers are entitled to sickness, unfitness to work and unemployment benefits when they are ill, unfit to work or unemployed. Naturally the coffeeshops will have to pay the employer's contribution for their cannabis-selling employees.

Finally the sale of soft drugs in coffeeshops is covered by prosecution guidelines but where do coffeeshops get their products? Or as the Dutch Minister of Justice Winnie Sorgdrager put it: How about the backdoor of the coffeeshops? After all the domestic Dutch market is a well established commercial structure based on the coffeeshop system (Lap and Drucker, 1994) . It is supplied by many small to medi um sized local producers plus a number of larger importers. Although tolerating the retail trade of hashish and marijuana in the coffeeshops, no similar system has ever been applied towards the production or wholesale trade of cannabis in the Netherlands indeed up to the summer of 1995 they were vigorously prosecuted.

The new government report deals with cannabis related subjects in several paragraphs of the report and has given this subject a major role throughout the report. This does not mean that the report produces any striking new conclusions or solutions. The Netherlands is not legalising cannabis in the formal sense. The cannabis retail points called coffeeshops will be regulated according to town and country planning regulations as well as nuisance regulations for catering businesses. They will now be allowed to have a cannabis stock of several hundred grams but are not allowed to sell more than 5 grams per customer/transaction .

Domestic cannabis growing for personal consumption will no longer be prosecuted in the Netherlands and the report expresses the desire for prosecution guidelines enabling supply by small scale growers to the coffee shops. The report ernphasises the prevention of cannabis exportation and the elimination of organised crime in the supply chain through small scale Dutch cannabis production.


There are many facets of Dutch drug policy that were not dealt with in the context of this article because it has to be seen as an impression rather than an extensive analysis. No attention was paid to several significant subjects such as the legalisation debate, harm reduction, international diplomacy aspects and human rights in this piece, reserving these subjects for a future article on drugs and human rights.

The main conclusion, which can be made in my opinion, is that Dutch policy, on both legal and illegal substances and behaviour, has undergone a shift towards an emphasis on nuisance prevention, public order and crime during recent years. Furthermore, as made clear above, it is harder to deal with these problems when linked to illegal drugs than when linked to alcohol, gambling and tobacco.

Mario Lap, The International Foundation on Drug Policy and Human Rights, Koninginneweg 189, 1075CB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Cohen P et al. ( 1994). Cannabis in Amsterdam. Institute of Human Geography, University of Amsterdam.

Lap M, Drucker E (1994). Recent changes in the Dutch cannabis trade: the case for regulated domestic production.International Journal of Drug Policy 6: 249-53 .


*Recently the European parliament has accepted a resolution by the commission on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs chaired by conservative Sir Jack Stewart-Clark ( Brussels, 7/8 June 1995, Resolution on the communication from the commission to the Council and the European Parliament on a European Union action plan to combat drugs (19951990), COM(94)0234-C4 0107/94) in which a distinction between soft and hard drugs, study of changes to the international narcotic conventions and an emphasis on health aspects rather than prosecution are recommended.


Our valuable member Mario Lap has been with us since Sunday, 19 December 2010.

Show Other Articles Of This Author