This article in Foreign Affairs exemplifies the common perception that in the Netherlands "anything goes" with respect to drugs, and that it is a virtual heaven for drug users, where drug dealers are allowed to openly import huge amounts of cocaine and heroin undisturbed by nosy customs officials. This is the image of the "Dutch model" that is portrayed by some foreign media, government officials, and politicians, in particular in the United States. The best representative of this conservative viewpoint is without a doubt Barry R. McCaffrey, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in Washington. He sees the Dutch policy as the example of a misguided"soft" approach. In his opinion, the poor results of the Dutch drug policy are the best proof that the tough American approach is superior (McCaffrey"). Of course, this "anything goes" image did not just develop out of the clear blue sky; it is based-partly at least-on reality. But it also reflects an oversimplified, impressionistic, and outdated understanding of Dutch drug policy. Myths, distortions, and half-truths about Dutch drug policy go both ways: whereas the conservatives tend to emphasize the negative side of the Dutch model, the more liberal thinkers tend to argue that there are virtually no problems related to the "soft" Dutch approach. The "Dutch model" is typically depicted in black-and-white terms: either it represents all the despicable and dangerous elements of a much too soft drug policy gone wrong, or it embodies all the virtues and benefits of a rational and thoughtful approach to a manageable problem. The reality, as always, lies somewhere in between these two extreme views.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL,
Marshall, I.H. (Ineke Haen), & van de Bunt, H.G. (2014). Exporting the drug war to the Netherlands and Dutch alternatives. In Drug War American Style: The Internationalization of Failed Policy and its Alternatives (pp. 206–227). doi:10.4324/9781315053493-15