Developments in Dutch Drug Policy

This presentation begins with a paradox: At the very moment when more countries are shifting their drug policies toward the Dutch approach (including the US), the Dutch government seemed to move in the opposite direction. What happened? Did Dutch citizens and their parliamentary representatives suddenly change their mind about cannabis and repudiate 30 years of the world’s most liberal drug policy? Craig Reinarman will describe the new cannabis law (“weetpass”) passed by the new Dutch Parliament in 2010 and situate it in the curious conjuncture of conditions that engendered it. Supporters of the US model of punitive prohibition read the new law as a sign the Dutch have at last come to their senses, but the law does not reinstate cannabis prohibition and does not symbolize a shift to “get tough” drug policies. Indeed, the government that initially passed this law quickly collapsed and a new government was elected last fall. Some local governments in the southern provinces (e.g., Maastricht) implemented the new law and reaped unintended consequences, while other local governments (e.g., Amsterdam) have said they will not enforce it. There are virtues in this ambiguity.