U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

War and Peace: Drug Policy in the United States and the Netherlands

NCJ Number
Crime, Law, and Social Change Volume: 22 Issue: 3 Dated: (1994-1995) Pages: 213-238
B Bullington
Date Published
26 pages
This paper compares some of the most salient features of the national drug policies of the U.S. and the Netherlands.
Nearly from the beginning of the 20th Century, the U.S. has followed a policy of drug use criminalization and stringent penal policies for offenders convicted of possessing, using, and selling illegal drugs. There have been some periods in which policymakers have considered the notion that drug addicts suffer from a disease and that the issue of illegal drug use should be approached from a public health, rather than a criminal justice, perspective. During the past decade, the American public has become increasingly concerned with domestic drug use; as a result, there have been dramatic increases in the numbers of persons arrested for drug offenses, lengthy delays in court case processing, and overcrowding in prisons. There has also been a reported decline in drug use among Americans. Following a long period in which it pursued a similar drug policy to that of the U.S., the Dutch government in the 1970's began to adopt a pragmatic, rational, dispassionate approach to the design and implementation of social policies, including that related to drugs. A central feature of contemporary Dutch drug policy is the governmentally approved distinction between hard and soft drugs. Dutch drug policy is also based on the notion that eradicating all illicit drug use is not practicable. These policies are compared in terms of supply reduction and demand reduction; the author concludes that the Dutch approach has generally produced more desirable outcomes than the U.S. policy. 44 references


No download available