Local politics and retail cannabis markets: the case of the Dutch coffeeshops

Marije Wouters, Annemieke Benschop, Dirk J Korf
International Journal on Drug Policy 2010, 21 (4): 315-20

BACKGROUND: Cannabis coffeeshops are concentrated in specific areas in the Netherlands; close to 80% of Dutch municipalities have no coffeeshops. We investigated why such wide local differences exist.

METHODS: Regression analyses were carried out on data regarding the number of coffeeshops per municipality, local council seat distribution and area demographic characteristics. A contrast analysis of municipalities with no/few vs. many coffeeshops was also performed.

RESULTS: Whether a town has one or more coffeeshops can be predicted in part by its population size, but more strongly by political composition of the local council. The larger the percentage of progressive councillors, the greater the probability that coffeeshops are allowed. The number of coffeeshops in a town depends primarily on the demand for cannabis (reflected in factors like local population size); it generally has little to do with national-level party political preferences about drug policy.

CONCLUSION: Both the demand for coffeeshops and local political preference influence coffeeshop policy in the Netherlands.

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