The Dutch government’s liberal attitude towards drugs, particularly its permissive cannabis policy, has been unmatched by any other government in the world.

Dutch drug policy has been guided by many factors, one of which includes the cultural idea of gedogen—which literally translates to ‘acquiescence’ or ‘turning a blind eye’. It’s a pragmatic approach in which the law sees individuals as capable of managing their own affairs, including their health. The reasoning is this: why push drug use underground when it will happen regardless—it is better to regulate it, thus “turning a blind eye.” The law is therefore enforced only when there’s a reason to intervene.

When it comes to soft drugs such as marijuana, this idea has led to greater tolerance, however only marijuana use has been decriminalized. Its actual production remains illegal. A similar case is mescaline or peyote, which is illegal in powder form though a living cactus is totally legal.

Given the country’s reputation for its tolerance of cannabis, it’s easy to think psychedelics are completely legal here. However, according to the Opiumwet or Opium Act (the country’s narcotics act), LSD and DMT are considered Schedule I drugs (alongside heroin and cocaine) and illegal.

However, the plant-based entheogen ayahuasca is not illegal according to the Psychotropic Substance Treaty signed in Vienna in 1971. The Dutch courts agreed in the late 1990s, after a long court case involving the Santo Daime church, that ayahuasca ceremonies can be held in the Netherlands under proper guidance.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms became illegal in November 2008 (not just here but around this same period, across Europe). With Dutch politics going through a cycle of political conservatism, the government changed the law and has pushed for zero tolerance since.

Some legally smart Dutch mushroom growers (who had supplied much of now dead European market) shifted to raising psilocybin truffles. Not as potent as shrooms, but technically not mushrooms either, they remain legal to grow, sell and consume. Grow kits which are neither truffles nor mushrooms are also legal to sell in the Netherlands.

Naturally, the PSN hopes to at some stage to lobby for a re-think of the country’s inconsistent policies regarding psychedelics.


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