The Netherlands is a western European nation bordering the North Sea, Belgium, and Germany. From an early stage, Dutch drug policy makers have developed a stance toward the use and users of illicit drugs that is generally regarded as liberal and tolerant, and which has come to represent the antithesis of the U.S. “War on Drugs.”

Broadly based on the principle of normalizing the use of drugs rather than criminalizing and marginalizing those who use them, Dutch drug policy stems from efforts to develop initiatives lessening the harm that is caused by drug policies as well as by the drugs themselves. The policies have been designed to effect a distinct separation of the markets for soft (marijuana) and hard (heroin, cocaine) drugs. International criticism has had ...

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