Netherlands: Cannabis Coffee-Shops Appear To Minimally Impact Dutch Use Patterns

Berkeley, CA: The proliferation of Dutch ‘coffee-shops,’ which allow for the sale of limited quantities of marijuana to patrons age 18 or older, appears to have had little impact on Dutch cannabis use patterns, according to an analysis published online in the scientific journal Addiction.

University of California at Berkeley researcher Robert MacCoun compared some 40 years of Dutch data on cannabis “prevalence, … patterns of use, treatment, sanctioning, process, and purity” with comparable data from Europe and the United States.

MacCoun concluded: “Dutch citizens use cannabis at more modest rates than some of their [European] neighbors, and they do not appear to be particularly likely to escalate their use relative to their counterparts in Europe and in the United States. Moreover, there are indications that rather than increasing ‘the gateway’ to hard drugs use, separating soft and hard drug markets possibly reduced the gateway.”

Among those ages 15 to 16, only 6.5 percent of Dutch teens acknowledge having used an illicit drug other than cannabis versus 19 percent of American teens. In addition, American adolescents are far more likely than their Dutch peers (72 percent to 46 percent) to say that cannabis is “fairly or very easy to obtain.”

An estimated 700 retail cannabis outlets presently operate in the Netherlands, employing some 3000-4,000 workers.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “What can we learn from the Dutch cannabis coffeeshop system,” appears online in Addiction.