Evaluation of Dutch Drug Policy

English summary
Margriet Van Laar (Trimbos-instituut) & Marianne van Ooyen-Houben (WODC) eds.
Trimbos-instituut (Utrecht) / WODC (The Hague)
June 2009

evaluatie-drugsbeleidThe main purpose of this evaluation was to determine to what extent the principal goal of Dutch drug policy has been achieved, as stated in the 1995 Policy Document on Drugs (Drugsnota). This asserts the primacy of protecting public health, and thus gives priority to drugs prevention and to the management of the individual and social risks that arise from drug use.

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The evaluation also examined some associated aims of drug policy in the following areas: policy on separation of markets and cannabis coffeeshops; drugs prevention and harm reduction; care and treatment; drugs crime; offences committed by drug users; drugs-related nuisance; international cooperation; and research and monitoring.

This evaluative study starts by analysing the reasoning behind the policy. For each of the above policy areas, a description is provided of the underlying principles, the proposed approach and the envisaged outcomes of policy. Furthermore, the study examines whether the proposed approach was realised in practice and whether the outcomes are in line with expectations. Only to a limited extent can pronouncements be made about the ‘effects’ of policy, and then only with regard to some aspects of policy areas.

The main starting point for the evaluation is the 1995 Drugs Policy Paper, with the situation in recent years forming the benchmark for outcomes. Documents analysed included policy documents, scientific publications, doctoral theses, research reports; data from existing registrations were examined as were secondary analyses of research data, as well as information obtained from experts in sounding board meetings.