US Assessment of Dutch Drug Policy

"The Netherlands is a significant transit country for narcotics. A sizeable percentage of cocaine consumed in Europe enters via the Netherlands. It remains an important producer of synthetic drugs, such as MDMA (ecstasy), although a sizeable amount of production appears to have shifted to other countries. The Netherlands has a large legal chemical sector, making it an opportune location to illicitly obtain or produce pre-precursor chemicals. Cultivation of cannabis is extensive with a high percentage believed to be for export. The government views domestic drug use primarily as a public health issue, but places a high priority on combating the illegal drug trade and has had considerable success. The Dutch Opium Act prohibits the possession, commercial distribution, production, import and export of all illicit drugs. The act distinguishes between 'hard' drugs that have 'unacceptable' risks (e.g., heroin, cocaine, ecstasy), and 'soft' drugs (cannabis products). Sales of small amounts of cannabis products (under five grams) are 'tolerated' (i.e., illegal but not prosecuted) in establishments called 'coffee shops' which operate under regulated conditions. Cultivation and distribution remain illegal and are prosecuted.
"Bilateral cooperation with the United States is excellent. Law enforcement agencies maintain excellent operational cooperation, with principal attention given to South American cocaine trafficking organizations and drug-related money laundering activities."


"International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Volume I Drug and Chemical Control," Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (Washington, DC: United States Department of State, March 2014), p. 244.