The Dutch Model Fails?


With looming reforms rolling back pot-tolerance in Amsterdam, Yglesias looks at the state of marijuana in the Netherlands:

[A]s I understand it there are two main problems with the status quo. One is that under the old tolerance regime there’s still no way for a coffee shop to legally obtain the supply of marijuana you need to operate on the scale of a business. Consequently, de facto legalization hasn’t actually eliminated the black market and associated criminality.

Secondarily, the main market for the coffee shops turns out to be drug tourists from abroad. That reduces the Dutch political constituency for keeping them open. And the two factors interact together to create a situation where there’s a strong case to be made that legal coffee shops (by bringing drug tourists from the UK and the US into shops that need to tap an illegal wholesale market to gain their supplies) increase the scale of organized crime in the Netherlands.

I think that if you’re looking for stable alternatives to prohibition you either need to more to a more robust form of legalization than the Dutch hadcomplete with totally legitimate marijuana farmersor else adopt the Mark Kleiman “grow your own” proposal in which growing pot, smoking pot, possessing pot, etc are all legal but commerce in marijuana would be illegal. 

That seems to me to get it right. Drug tourism, especially, I'm sorry to say, by the Brits on weekend shroom benders, has led to some awful incidents, and I can see the logic of restricting pot use to Dutch residents. You cannot kinda-legalize something now illegal and hope for the best. Getting to there from here requires grasping the, er, bud.

(Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)