Netherlands

14. The overall objective of drugs policy in the Netherlands is to reduce the harm caused by drugs, both to individuals and to society. Policy is based on the premises that education, prevention and treatment are more effective than punishing users; that interventions should focus on the most harmful drugs; and that drug addiction is a 'normal social problem'.16 Under the 1976 revision of the Dutch Opium Act, drugs are divided into two schedules: Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, present an unacceptable health risk while Schedule II drugs are associated with a negligible or acceptable health risk. Cannabis is a Schedule II drug. The intention behind creating these two Schedules was to separate the markets for 'hard' and 'soft' drugs and to thus prevent users moving from 'soft' to 'hard' drugs.17

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