UN Office on Drugs and Crime

So the aim was for a drug free society and in order to reach this goal there were three principle lines of attack. Firstly, the supply of drugs was to be cut off, and the custom service was to play a crucial role in this regard. Secondly, demand was to be obstructed by preventing those who have not yet been affected, from coming into contact with drugs. This is where police patrols focused on street level drug dealing.

Another preventative measure was in using informational and educational measures, especially school education, and influencing public opinion in order to affect people's attitudes and behaviour so they have no desire to experiment with drugs. Thirdly, a drug care sector is required to provide treatment for drug users pushing them towards a drug free life, under compulsion if necessary, (Tham, 2003, p37). This second section will examine the success of the Netherlands drug policy.

Dutch harm reduction initiatives such as needle exchange programmes, the free testing of ecstasy pills for purity, reception rooms where users can take drugs without making a nuisance of themselves on the streets and methadone programmes in which those addicted to heroin receive free methadone in an attempt to control their addiction have been successful because they have led to a lower drug-related death rate without causing an increase in the overall number of users.

Such practises have further resulted in a situation in which drug addicts are relatively visible to the authorities and far more of them come into care and treatment than in countries with more repressive policies such as Sweden, (Chatwin, 2003, p568). Due to intravenous heroin users being able to get clean needles free, this has resulted in only 8% of the Netherlands' AIDS victims being 'junkies', compared with that of 26% of those in the USA. The Dutch police estimate that they have guided about 75% of heroin addicts to undergo treatment, usually with methadone substitution, (Clutterbuck, 1995, p151).

Regarding heroin use, due to the policies the mid-late 1980s saw a decline or at least stabilisation and the 1989 figures gave an estimate of "about 7000 (opiod addicts in Amsterdam out of a population of 692,000 and reliable estimates for the whole country suggested between 15,000 and 20,000 addicts out of a total population of 14. 7 million," (Ruggerio, 1995, p30). The methadone bus was a very successful initiative as part of the methadone maintenance program, which was distributed from a mobile bus.

It was able to reach people in certain neighbourhoods who are otherwise hard to contact and it does not create any great annoyance to people in a specific area. The formation of Junkiebond was very helpful in helping drug addicts as no one knows addicts better than other drug addicts, and it was them that really pushed for increasing needle exchanges, (Macdonald & Zagaris, 1992, pp263-265). The controversial tolerance of small-scale cannabis use and open sale in the coffee shops has proved successful.

It has successfully separated the market and so preventing soft drug users to move onto hard drugs, which is shown in numerous surveys among soft drug users but also from the fact that relatively few cannabis users, some 21,000 to 23,000, are addicted to hard drugs, (Dorn, Jepsen, Savona 1996, p100). Also contrary to what many predicted it does not appear to have led to any escalation of marijuana use but stabilised it and even some reports suggest a decline, (Ruggerio, 1995, p32).

Much Dutch cannabis is home grown, and this keeps the price low at about $1. 50 per gm compared to that of $4-5 in the UK. Therefore at this price Dutch users very rarely need to perform acts of acquisitive crime to buy it, (Clutterbuck, 1995, p150). There is relatively little drug-related crime in the Netherlands. There is less incentive for the dealers to bribe the police or to fight each other in 'turf wars' i. e. for territorial rights, especially as they know that the police could probably identify them if they did.

In 1987, two years after the 'non-enforcement' policy was introduced, there were 18,000 deaths ascribed to tobacco, 2000 to alcohol but only 64 to heroin and virtually none to cocaine or other drugs, (Clutterbuck, 1995, p151). The Dutch drug policy has not been a complete success with certain negative consequences being criticised. Amsterdam attracts large numbers of 'drug tourists'. Of Amsterdam's drug addicts in 1990, two thousand were foreign and if they become sick or anti-social the police attempt to spot them and send them home but many come back.

Others simply come to the Netherlands to purchase drugs and take them home to make a profit. Many of the Netherlands' neighbouring states are annoyed by this and so does the fact that 80% of the EU's amphetamines are of Dutch manufacture. However, from a realist perspective, states do what they can to protect their state and its own people and therefore the negative consequences on other states are not an issue.

Nevertheless, the Netherlands have undertaken more repressive policies to discourage foreign tourism and to "ensure that any effects of the Dutch drug policy may have on other states will be anticipated and dealt with by themselves," (Chatwin, 2003, p570). The police and customs officials of the relevant countries are now working together to control large scale drug trafficking organisations operating across the borders, (Dorn, 1999, p204 and Clutterbuck, 1995, p152). It has been argued that the policy cannot have been that successful as there has been increasing polices of a repressive nature.

For example the "frequent use of the municipal by-law by which the open use of drugs is prohibited with arrest and conviction of users," (Dorn, 1995, p204) or the 'streetjunkie project', which is a package of measures designed to push and force the group of so called 'extremely problematic drug users' to kick the habit. Another policy is the 'binnenstadverbad', which is a 'city centre banning order', by which drug users who repeatedly cause public disturbance may be refused entry to a substantial part of the city centre for a fortnight, (Mol & Trautmann, 1995, p220).

However, just because a certain policy works well at one time it does not mean it should be kept unchanged. With drugs there is a need for flexibility to deal with new problems or certain problems coming to the forefront which may arise. An increase in repressive policy for certain aspects is judged to be the best for further success and therefore should be followed but in no way has the Netherlands lost their liberal, pragmatic approach. There is no guarantee that attempts to imitate Dutch drug policy in other countries would also be a success.

Barber and Wijngaeert argue that there are crucial elements needed of the Dutch context, such as a strong belief in equal rights; beliefs in the possibility and legitimacy of social intervention; and a sound system of health care and provisions, (Macdonald & Zagaris, 1992, p267). This third section will examine the success of Sweden's drug policy, while also comparing it that of the Netherlands. The Swedish drug policy is generally presented as being successful. Sweden's most successful and strongest efforts have been to educate the young; in the early 1970s, approximately 15% of 15-16 year old pupils reported having tried drugs.

This declined to 7% in 1975 and to 5% in 1983 down to 3% in 1987, indicating that Sweden's school-based drug education programs were met with some success, (Macdonald & Zagaris, pp274-277). However it is now, in 2006, at 6% but this is still significantly lower than in the early 1970s. When comparing with other European countries, Sweden seems to also fare well. Life-time prevalence and regular use of drugs is considerably lower in Sweden than in the rest of Europe.

This is for the general population as well as that for young people, where average levels of life-time prevalence of drug use among 15-16 year olds in Europe averaged at 22%, the corresponding rate in Sweden was 8% in 2003 and then to 6% in 2006, (UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 2006, p51). Sweden is also among the European countries with low levels of injecting drug-use-related HIV/AIDS infections. On the supply side, drug prices in Sweden are among the highest in Europe and therefore, drug tourism targeting in Sweden is largely unknown, (UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 2006, p51).