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Sweden and Holland – two drug policy models

  • Dolf Tops
  • Henrik Tham
Publiceringsår: 2003
Språk: Engelska
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Researchers on Swedish Drug Policy
Dokumenttyp: Del av eller Kapitel i bok
Förlag: Stockholm University, Department of Criminology


It is a well known fact that since the 1960s, Sweden and Holland have developed completely

different types of drug policy. But there are a number of misconceptions as to what the

differences consist in and how they have arisen. My contribution to this anthology involves

elucidating these differences.

In the context of international discussions of drug policy, the policies followed by Sweden

and Holland are regarded as being completely antithetical. Swedish policy is described as

restrictive, meaning that measures are directed at preventing the population coming into

contact with illegal narcotic substances. The basic assumption is that all non-medical use of

drugs constitutes abuse. The underlying motive is that this is done for the people’s best and

that it is the job of the state to shield the population from danger. Dutch policy is described as

liberal, i.e. the state should not interfere in people’s private lives as long as this does not cause

injury to a third party. This also extends to behaviours regarded by the majority as

undesirable, e.g. illegal drug use. In the following, I will be restricting myself to what I regard

as the essential elements that distinguish the two countries’ drug policies from one another.


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