The private club and the residence criterion for Dutch coffeeshops: evaluation of the implementation and outcomes in the period
May-November 2012: an interim report.
The Dutch coffeeshop policy became more restrictive on 1 January 2012. Two
new criteria that coffeeshops must adhere to in order for them to be tolerated were added to the Opium Act Guidelines for
the Public Prosecution Service: the private club [B] criterion and the residence [I] criterion. The B-criterion stipulated
that coffeeshops could only permit access to, and sell to, registered coffeeshop members. Coffeeshops could furthermore only
have a maximum of 2000 registered members per calendar year. The members had to be documented in a verifiable membership list.
The I-criterion stipulated that only residents of the Netherlands would be allowed to become coffeeshop members and hence
to enter the Dutch coffeeshops.
The implementation and consequences of the new criteria are being evaluated at the request
of the Minister of Security and Justice. The current interim report covers the implementation process and outcomes of the
two new criteria between May 2012 and November 2012. The criteria were enforced during this period only in the southern provinces
of Limburg, Noord-Brabant and Zeeland.
This study examined whether the implementation processes were carried out
as intended, whether the new policy achieved its goals, and to what extent an illegal market for cannabis (an anticipated
adverse side-effect) emerged between 1 May and November 2012. The ‘intervention logic’ behind the B- and I- criteria was used
as a framework for this evaluation. This ‘logic’ was reconstructed by the researchers from the available policy documentation
and verified in interviews with the parties involved in the implementation of the two additional criteria.
For this evaluation,
a sample was drawn consisting of seven southern municipalities where the criteria have been enforced since 1 May 2012 (the
experimental group), and seven municipalities in the other provinces where the criteria were not enforced during the measurement
period (the comparison group). Coffeeshop areas were selected within these municipalities where interviews and surveys were
conducted with coffeeshop customers and local residents. Developments in the southern municipalities were compared with developments
in the other provinces.
Two rounds of interviews have been conducted to assess the implementation process (with 40 and
36 key informants respectively). The interviews were conducted in the sample in the southern provinces with representatives
of the national government (more specifically the Ministry of Security and Justice), the Board of Procurators General, the
regional supporting body for the municipalities, the municipalities, the police, the district Public Prosecution Offices and
the coffeeshop owners. The interviews took place during the initial period of the enforcement of the new criteria (May-August
2012) and after approximately six months (end of 2012).
In order to investigate the desired outcomes - reduced nuisance
and drug tourism, smaller coffeeshops (as indicated by a reduced number of coffeeshop visits) accessible only to residents
of the Netherlands - two measurements were performed: a baseline measurement and a first follow-up measurement. Survey respondents
included coffeeshop visitors (n=1,051 at baseline and n=739 at the first follow-up) and local residents near coffeeshops in
the selected coffeeshop areas (n=712 at baseline and n=714 at the first follow-up).
This evaluation did not measure potential
effects on (organised) drug-related crime or whether the coffeeshops became more manageable. A separate evaluation would have
to be conducted consulting different categories of participants and other sources in order to draw valid conclusions concerning
these anticipated effects.
The consequences for the illegal cannabis consumer market were investigated using a street
survey with cannabis users outside the designated coffeeshop areas (n=942 at baseline and n=812 at the first follow-up). This
survey took place in the southern municipalities as well as in the rest of the country. In addition, 340 non-current and current
users of cannabis - who all used cannabis during 2012 but had not used or bought cannabis in the month prior to the first
follow-up - were surveyed during the first follow-up. The baseline measurements were completed prior to 1 May 2012, and the
first follow-up measurement half a year later, in October-November 2012.