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Drugs Are Not Legal in the Netherlands

It’s about time someone refuted this common myth.

I recently got into an argument online about the claims of a casual drug user. He claimed that drugs are legal in the Netherlands. I quickly corrected him using my knowledge of this myth. That’s why I have decided to write this article. I have found that it is a common misconception that “soft” drugs such as marijuana and “shrooms” are legal in the Netherlands.

I want to clarify things. Drugs are illegal in the Netherlands. The reason for the misleading attitudes is that while it is illegal, the drug laws are not applied to soft drugs. Instead of going over the legal side of things I will post a link to a government website that explains the laws.

There are several reasons behind the actual criminalization of drugs in the Netherlands. One important factor is that they are in fact signatories on to various International Treaties. In 1961 they signed the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1971 saw the Netherlands sign the Convention on Psychotropic Substances and in 1988 they joined the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotic Substances. These treaties prohibit the production of natural and synthetic drugs classified as illicit as well as signatories are required to criminalize illicit drug possession.

Another is that the Netherlands has decided that softer drugs come under Health instead of Justice. They see that the use of drugs is more of a health problem then a legal one. Instead of handing out hefty sentences they rehabilitate. The taking of soft drugs is seen as a choice that a person makes that will harm them. They take a similar stance as we do on alcohol, that it is a choice people make. Like alcohol people can make the choice but if they hurt others while under the influence then there are consequences. Thus it is a situation that encourages “safe” use.

So concluding I will reiterate, drugs are illegal in the Netherlands. However the laws are not enforced, thus giving the appearance that is in fact legal.

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  1. Eps

    On June 11, 2009 at 7:10 pm


    if all laws were applied, then selling milk should be considered illegal because of the amount of radio active material in it…

    drop (famous dutch candy, extracted from the dried roots of Glycyrrhiza glabra by hot water under pressure and then concentrated) should be illegal because of it’s amount of glycyrrhizine in it…

    milk and drop aren’t allowed to be sold according to the dutch law! you really think that there would be a dutch policeman to arrest you for that?

    softdrugs are legal in the netherlands, just like drop, milk.

    -no more than 5 grams per person may be sold in any one transaction;
    -no hard drugs may be sold;
    -drugs may not be advertised;
    -the coffee shop must not cause any nuisance;
    -no drugs can be sold to minors (under age 18), nor may minors enter the premises;
    -the municipality has not ordered the establishment closed.
    (http://www.drugpolicy.org/global/drugpolicyby/westerneurop/thenetherlan/)

  2. Eps

    On June 11, 2009 at 7:15 pm


    “either hard drugs or cannabis. It is not an offence to use drugs.”
    rofl, didn’t knew that one…

    “http://www.om.nl/vast_menu_blok/english/verzamel/frequently_asked/are_drugs_legal_in/”

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