Lisbon, Portugal -- Marijuana use among Dutch citizens is lower than the European average, according to survey data published last week in a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
According to the 2009 annual report, entitled "The State of the Drugs Problem in Europe," among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 percent are cannabis users, compared with the European average of 6.8 percent.
Under Dutch law, citizens over 18 years of age may legally purchase and consume cannabis at licensed cafes (so-called 'coffee-shops') located throughout the nation.
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"The US, which has been driving much of the world's drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies," the study reported. "The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the US, has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in nation-level rates of illegal drug use."
The EMCDDA report concluded, "Europe is moving into a period of declining levels of cannabis use."