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Dutch response to INCB statment

The Netherlands stated their full association with the EU statement given by the Czech representative.

They welcomed the view of INCB that drug treatment should not be used as a method of control, and that it requires a humane and ethical approach that respects human rights. They stated that the INCB has a role to play in promoting this approach.

They also welcomed the INCB’s focus on prevention and commented that much remains to be done to ensure that lessons learnt are applied in prevention programmes around the world. Unfortunately many prevention programmes are not based on effectiveness, and evaluation is all too rare. They stated that the INCB has a role to play in further stimulating evidence-based approaches and that this is of the utmost importance.

They emphasised the necessity of a flexible approach and went on to describe coffee shops and drug consumption rooms as part of this debate. They disagree with the asertion that drug consumption rooms (DCR) contravene the treaties. They count drug consumption rooms among the new, innovative and effective measures to reverse the adverse consequences of drug use and reduce drug-related harm. They do not operate for the purpose of administering drugs but for health care provision.

Drug consumption rooms aim to limit health damage, to improve the living situation of drug users and to reduce harms in society. Sometimes the DCR is the only health care facility which reaches drug users and this is particularly the case for crack cocaine users. They referred to research findings that DCR visitors decrease their drug use and their risk of overdose and other drug related harms. They stated that in their opinion these facilities do not conflict with international treaties.

In addition, they referred to Dutch coffee shops where small amounts of cannabis are sold and used under strict control. Cannabis is a controlled substance is the Netherlands. The expediency principle allows the public prosecutor to refrain from prosecution and allows discretion. The strict controls over coffee shops include no advertising, no sale of hard drugs, no nuisance caused, no sale to minors, no sales exceeding 5 grams per transaction. The users are not criminalised and therefore not forced to move in criminal circles, limiting the risk that they may try more dangerous drugs. The representative stressed that this approach has not led to a higher prevalence of cannabis use and that both the coffee shops and DCRs have had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing in the Netherlands.

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