Report: Dutch Lessons For U.S. Marijuana Policy

NETHERLANDS: A new report from the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program finds that the Dutch have effectively separated the markets for marijuana and hard drugs, leading to the “lowest rate of problem drug use in Europe”.

The report titled “Coffee Shops and Compromise: Separated Illicit Drug Markets in the Netherlands” finds that only 14 percent of Dutch cannabis users say they can get other drugs from their weed dealer. By contrast in Sweden, 52 percent of pot smokers say they can buy other drugs from their pot sources. The Netherlands has the lowest rate of problem drug use in Europe, the report finds.

Since the ’80s,The Netherlands has tried to think differently about drug policy. Officials believe arrests and prosecutions for minor drug offenses – like in the U.S. – would be counter-productive because criminal records “damages a person’s prospects of employment and social participation”, according to the report. Marijuana possession has been decriminalized in The Netherlands. In Amsterdam, about 700 “coffee shops” are allowed to sell marijuana – but not harder drugs.

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