« Various indicators strongly suggest an increase in (problematic) GHB use in certain subpopulations, both inside and outside nightlife. In 2009, 0.4% of the population aged 15 to 64 had used GHB and 0.2% reported using GHB in the past month. These figures are comparable to those of amphetamine, but much lower than those of ecstasy and cocaine. Higher percentages of GHB users are found in the nightlife population, although GHB is not a club drug by definition and home use is also commonly reported. « Data from specialized processing centres show that the number of new entrants has remained stable in recent years, after increasing during the period 2006-11. In 2015, the largest group of first-time drug treatment participants included those requiring treatment for cannabis use. Cocaine (crack) is the second most commonly reported primary substance among new users, although the trend indicates a decline since 2008. In the Netherlands, there are strict laws that limit the quantities of approved soft drugs, the conditions of sale and consumption. Driving under the influence of soft drugs is equivalent to driving under the influence of alcohol. Large-scale cultivation, processing and trafficking of marijuana is still prohibited, as in any other country, but the penalties imposed by the courts are much less severe than abroad.
The Dutch have not resolved the issue of the controlled supply of soft drugs. While large-scale marijuana cultivation and trafficking will be banned and prosecuted, the question remains how coffee shops across the country can maintain their supplies under this law. It should be noted that drugs are not tolerated in their production, especially the cultivation of cannabis. This has led to a seemingly paradoxical system in which coffee shops are allowed to buy and sell soft drugs, but production is almost always punished.  Since coffee shops have to source from somewhere, criticism of the ongoing persecution of soft drug producers has been voiced over the years. It was first challenged in court in 2014 when a judge found two people guilty of producing cannabis in large quantities, but refused to punish them.   A significant change occurred in early 2017, when a slim majority in the House of Representatives approved the passage of a bill that would partially legalize cannabis production.  In late 2017, the newly formed coalition announced that it would attempt to introduce a new experimental system in some cities where coffee shops could legally purchase cannabis from a state-appointed producer.  The Netherlands spends more than €130 million a year on drug centres, of which about fifty percent goes to drug addicts.
The Netherlands has extensive demand reduction programmes that affect about ninety per cent of the country`s 25,000 to 28,000 hard drug users. The number of drug addicts has stabilized in recent years and their average age has risen to 38 years, which is generally considered a positive trend. Notably, the number of drug-related deaths in the country remains among the lowest in Europe.  The relatively recent increase in cocaine trafficking has been largely concentrated in the Caribbean. Since the beginning of 2003, a special court with prison facilities has been operating at Schiphol Airport. Since the beginning of 2005, all flights from the main Caribbean countries have been 100% controlled. In 2004, an average of 290 drug couriers were arrested each month, compared to 80 per month at the beginning of 2006.  « Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance by the Dutch adult population aged 15-64, followed by MDMA/ecstasy and cocaine. The gender gap in cannabis use persists: last year, the prevalence of cannabis use among young adults was about twice as high among males as females.
Use of all illicit drugs is concentrated among young adults aged 15 to 34. « The Dutch opium law is the basis of current drug legislation. It defines trafficking, cultivation and production, trafficking and possession of drugs as criminal acts. The Act and its amendments confirm the distinction between List I drugs (e.g. heroin, cocaine, MDMA/ecstasy, amphetamines) and List II drugs (e.g. cannabis, hallucinogenic mushrooms). The Opium Act is implemented through the National Opium Law Directive for Prosecutors, which is regularly revised; Since 2018, prosecutors have been invited to consider, if necessary, (partially) replacing community service and prison sentences with a fine. New psychoactive substances are regulated by amendments to the relevant lists of the Opium Act. « Moolenaar, Nauta and Van Tulder (2013) report expenditures on prevention, investigation, prosecution, conviction and support for perpetrators of various types of crimes in 2011. The types of offences are classified according to the most serious offence. The offences covered by the Opium Act are one of the categories classified into List I (hard drugs) and List II (soft drugs) offences (Table 9.1.6).
The figures for 2011 are preliminary. « Expenditure on opium law offences in 2011 is estimated at €395.0 million (nominal), of which €287.9 million for hard drugs and €107.2 million for soft drugs. » Expenditure on offences against the Opium Act accounts for 3.1 per cent of total expenditure on all offences. Among the 8 types of offences, offences under the Opium Act rank seventh in terms of expenditure (see Table 9.1.7). « €8.3 million will be spent on preventive measures, €81.8 million on investigations, €44.6 million on criminal prosecutions, €16.0 million on sentencing, €205.3 million on the enforcement of sentences and €38.9 million. € used for offender support and other types of support and activities (not in the table). « Spending on soft drugs is highest at the prevention and investigation stage, but hard drugs are higher in all other activities (not in the table). Of all drug-related expenditure, the enforcement of sentences for hard drug offences is the first (estimated cost of €175.3 million). « Several projects are setting up supply chains for HCV-infected addicts to be treated in hospitals. In addition, repatriation projects in several parts of the country are aimed at finding patients who have already been diagnosed with chronic HCV, including people using drugs, to offer treatment with direct-acting antiretroviral drugs. « We also have a more in-depth review of drug policies and drug use in the Netherlands. » The next phase of the criminal justice chain is the prosecutor`s office.
Note that a police report is a different administrative unit than a case registration by the prosecutor`s office. In 2011, the number of opium cases increased compared to 2010, especially soft drug cases. The increase is considerable. « The percentage of soft drug cases increased in 2011, while the percentage of hard drug cases decreased. More than half of the cases (53%) now involve soft drugs. Most of the cases covered by the Opium Act (60 per cent) concern the production, trafficking or trafficking of narcotics, 40 per cent drug possession (not included in the table). It is not clear from the numbers how high the amount of drugs was in cases of « drug possession. » General law enforcement policy states that if possession involves « small amounts for personal use, » it may be followed by referral or prosecution by police for the purpose of diverting it to care. Drugs are still confiscated. But if someone possesses more than one drug than the small amount that is considered « for personal use » – and this could be for trafficking – or if it is also another more serious crime, arrest and prosecution are the rule.
The available data do not distinguish between possession of small quantities for personal use and larger quantities that may be for personal use. « For hard drugs, 44% concerned the production or trafficking of hard drugs in 2011 and 46% the possession of hard drugs (absent from the table). In the case of soft drugs, these proportions vary: 74% relate to production or trafficking and 26% to possession (not included in the table). The percentage of cases under the Opium Law for all cases in 2011 is 7.6%. This was the first increase since 2005. « All recent policy documents indicate that Dutch drug policy has two cornerstones – and this was confirmed by the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport during the great debate on drugs in the House of Representatives in March 2012: protecting public health and combating public nuisance and drug-related crime (TK 24077-259; TK Handelingen 69-28 maart 2012). The current Opium Act Directive describes the objective of drug policy as follows: « The [new] Dutch drug policy aims to prevent and reduce drug use, in particular as it is harmful to health and society, and to prevent and reduce the harm associated with drug use, drug production and trafficking » (Stc 2011-11134). Since 1976, one of the fundamental principles of Dutch drug policy has been to continue to separate the markets for « soft » and « hard » drugs. The Opium Act Directive states that « Dutch drug policy aims to prevent and reduce drug use, especially when it is harmful to health and society, and to prevent and reduce the harm associated with drug use, production and trafficking » (Stc 2011-11134). The 1995 White Paper « Drug policy: continuity and change » sets out in detail the principles of Dutch drug policy.
With a balanced approach, it recognizes the distinction between « soft » (List I) and « hard » (List II) drugs. It sets out four main objectives: (i) prevention of drug use and treatment and rehabilitation of drug abusers; (ii) reduce harm to users; (iii) Reduce public nuisance caused by drug users; and (iv) combating drug production and trafficking. The two cities of Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom announced in October 2008 that they would close all cafes frequented by up to 25,000 French and Belgian tourists each week, with closures from February 2009.   « Until 2001, AIDS cases that met WHO criteria were recorded in the National Information System on AIDS Statistics, which is managed by the Health Inspectorate (IGZ).