The use of drugs has spread in Dutch society during recent decades. Because of drug-related diseases and other side-effects, such as prostitution and criminal activities by addicts, the author ities were forced to develop a coherent policy. Bans on the use of drugs, however, appeared to be impracticable. Consequently the government’s attitude became quite pragmatic. Yet a distinction is still made between (really) illegal hard drugs (e.g., cocaine and heroin) and tolerated soft drugs (e.g., hashish and marijuana). It is acceptable to sell and buy only soft drugs and only for personal use. Neighboring countries, particularly France and Germany, have not accepted this policy easily. They feared “drugs tourism” from their own citizens in coffee shops in the Netherlands. They also criticized the illegal Dutch export of synthetic drugs and forced the Dutch government to combat the use of Dutch harbors as transit ports for drugs into Europe. They have become some what less skeptical, however, since the number of drug-related deaths in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in Europe and the number of hard drug addicts has stabilized, as a result of success ful reduction programs.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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