"In the Netherlands, harm reduction activities are implemented through outreach work, low-threshold facilities and centres for ‘social addiction care’, the main goal of which is to establish and maintain contact with difficult-to-reach drug users.
"Since 1976, it has been a basic principle of Dutch drug policy to pursue the separation of the markets for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs. The Opium Act Directive states that the ‘Dutch drugs policy aims to discourage and reduce drug use, certainly in so far as it causes damage to health and to society, and to prevent and reduce the damage associated with drug use, drug production and the drugs trade’ (Stc 2011-11134). The 1995 white paper ‘Drug policy: continuity and change’ sets out comprehensively the principles of the Dutch illicit drugs policy.
"Data on the use of illicit substances among students aged 15-16 are reported in the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). This survey has been carried out regularly in the Netherlands since 1999 and the most recent data are from 2015. The ESPAD studies indicate a decreasing trend in lifetime cannabis use among school-age children over the period 1999-2015. Nevertheless, in 2015, lifetime use of cannabis among students in the Netherlands was notably higher than the ESPAD average (based on data from 35 countries).
"All recent policy documents state that the Dutch drug policy has two cornerstones - and this was confirmed by the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport during the major drug debate in the House of Representatives in March 2012: to protect public health and to combat public nuisance and drug-related crime (TK 24077-259; TK Handelingen 69-28 maart 2012).
"The most recent survey on drug use in the general population was conducted in 2009. However, due to methodological changes, the data are not comparable with those of previous surveys (1997, 2001 and 2005). Hence, recent trends cannot be described. In 2009 last year prevalence of cannabis use in the population of 15-64 years was 7.0% and last month prevalence was 4.2%. Almost one-third (30%) of the last month users had used cannabis daily or almost daily in the past month.