"Police and Public Prosecutor give low priority to the investigation of possession of small amounts of a drug for own use. The Opium Act Directive of the Public Prosecutor state that, if the offence concerns possession of small amounts for own use of a hard drug, the drugs will be seized, but normally there will be no custody or prosecution. Diversion to care is the primary aim of custody or prosecution in cases of possession of hard drugs (Directive Opium Act 2011A021 2012, www.om.nl).
Statistics and other data regarding drugs and drug policies in the Netherlands, covering all areas including public safety/criminal justice, public health, harm reduction, treatment, and prevention.
Estimated Prevalence of Use of Selected Drugs Among Young People In The Netherlands
"Recently, a survey performed on 200 patients who were using medicinal cannabis during the first months after its introduction in the Netherlands was published.49 The survey showed that most of the respondents had previous experiences with cannabis use for medicinal purposes or with synthetic cannabinoids such as dronabinol, whereas a minority of 40% were “new” users. Most patients were satisfied using medicinal cannabis; only 10% of patients reported moderate to more severe transitory adverse effects.
"According to a survey of 400 physicians, both general practitioners and specialists in the Netherlands, which was performed just before the legal introduction of medicinal cannabis, only 6% said that they were under no condition willing to prescribe medicinal cannabis, while 60% to 70% regarded medicinal cannabis sufficiently socially accepted and would prescribe it if asked for by a patient.46"
Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs in the Netherlands
Drug Use and Crime Indicators - Comparison Between The US and The Netherlands
The Netherlands follows a policy of separating the market for illicit drugs. Cannabis is primarily purchased through coffee shops. Coffee shops offer no or few possibilities for purchasing illicit drugs other than cannabis. Thus The Netherlands achieve a separation of the soft drug market from the hard drugs market - and separation of the 'acceptable risk' drug user from the 'unacceptable risk' drug user.
Cannabis Use in the Netherlands: "The figures for cannabis use among the general population reveal the same pictures. The Netherlands does not differ greatly from other European countries. In contrast, a comparison with the US shows a striking difference in this area: 32.9% of Americans aged 12 and above have experience with cannabis and 5.1% have used in the past month. These figures are twice as high as those in the Netherlands."