Netherlands Maintains Drug Peace

For decades, the Netherlands has had the least restrictive drug policy of any Western European nation. In September 1995, the Netherlands reaffirmed its policy, but made some concessions to pressure from other countries -- particularly France -- to criminalize more peaceful activity.

A French official was quoted by the Dutch ANP news agency as saying, "I'm satisfied that a more repressive policy has finally come and The Netherlands is catching up with its neighbours."

Although the Netherlands' drug policy statement declared no intention to legalize any drugs, it also reaffirmed the existing policy of allowing marijuana to be sold openly in "coffee shops" and expanded the amount of marijuana which could be grown for personal use or sale to the coffee shops.

Among the changes, individuals will only be able to buy five grams at one time from a coffee shop rather than thirty grams (one ounce). Five grams is enough for about eight to ten marijuana cigarettes. The reduction is aimed at stopping "drug tourists" who buy marijuana in the Netherlands to take back home to other countries.

In another change, individuals who grow marijuana for personal use or for sale to coffee shops will not be prosecuted. The change is aimed to limit the profits of black market organized crime.

The Dutch government also plans to give courts the power to put hard drug addicts in compulsory rehabilitation programs, and to start a heroin maintenance program.

Source: September 19, 1995, Reuter Information Service article, "Dutch chided for bowing to France on drug policy."