In the Netherlands 9.5% of young adults (aged 15–34) use soft drugs once a month. Similar are the findings for the youth in Finland (8%), Norway (9.6%), and Latvia (9,7%), while the percentage increases in the case of Germany (11,9%), Denmark (13,3%), UK (13.8%), Slovakia (14,7%), and France (16,7%). Soft drug use is the most common in Italy (20,9%), Czech Republic (19,3%) and Spain (18.8%), and the least in Poland (5,3%), Sweden (4,8%), Bulgaria (4,4%) and Greece (3,2%).
For 15-24 year olds, the monthly prevalence of drugs other than cannabis in the Netherlands was 4% in 2004, just above the average (3%) of the EU15 countries. However, it seems that few tend to become problematic drug users (0.30%) in comparison to the EU15 average (0.52%).
Drug-related death rates for the entire population in the Netherlands are the lowest in the EU; Poland, France, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic share similar trends. The Dutch government can support approximately 90% of help-seeking addicts with detoxification programs. The demand for treatment is increasing.
Official investigations into organized crime involve drugs in most cases (72%). Hard drugs prevail, but the trafficking of soft drug cases is increasing and currently accounts for 69% of criminal investigations.
Dealing, production, import and export are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, even if the quantities involved remain within the legal boundaries. Exactly how coffeeshops get their supplies is rarely investigated, however.
The average concentration of THC in the cannabis sold in coffeeshops has increased from 9% in 1998 to 18% in 2005. This means that less plant material is needed to achieve the same effect. One of the reasons is plant breeding and use of greenhouse technology for illegal growing of cannabis in the Netherlands. The former minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner announced in June 2007 that the cultivation of cannabis will continue to be illegal.
1. EMCDDA Annual Report, Lisbon, November 2009; Sweden's Succesful Drug Policy: A review of the evidence, UNODC, February 2007.
2. Sweden's Succesful Drug Policy: A review of the evidence, UNODC, February 2007.
3. Cannabis problems in context: understanding the increase in European treatment demands, EMCDDA, Lisbon, November 2004.
4. "Cannabis use stable, but treatment demand rising", Press Release on the NDM Annual Report 2006, Trimbos Institute, 19-06-2007.
6. "The emergence of ‘new cannabis’ and the reassessment of health risks", Word Drug Report, 2006.