The Netherlands' revised Opium Act of 1976 is part of the Dutch drug policy framework that includes tolerance for nonconforming lifestyles, risk reduction with regard to harmful health and social consequences of drug use, and penal measures directed against illicit trafficking in hard drugs.
This multifaceted approach has established the basic principles and operating practices of contemporary social and criminal drug policy in The Netherlands. Dutch drug policy is pragmatic and nonmoralistic, and it has been conceptualized within a normalizing model of social control aimed at depolarizing and integrating deviance as opposed to a deterrence model of social control aimed at isolating and removing deviance. Within the ideology of normalization, illegal drugs are seen as a limited and manageable social problem rather than as an alien threat forced on an otherwise innocent society. The revised Opium Act of 1976 represents a compromise between outright prohibition and social integration of illegal drugs. Its major provisions include a reduction of all penalties regarding soft drugs, a reduction of penalties for drug possession for personal use, a differentiation of maximum penalties for various aspects of drug trafficking, and an increase of maximum penalties for trafficking in hard drugs (from 4 to 12 years). The epidemiology of illegal drug use in The Netherlands is examined, and ideological principles and consequences associated with a pragmatic drug policy are addressed. 22 references
Netherlands Ministerie Van Justice
Box 20301, 2500 Eh the Hague Netherlands, Netherlands
Bulletin on Dutch Penal Law and Policy; Notes on Criminological Research from the Research and Documentation Centre, Netherlands Ministry of Justice