How were changes in Dutch policies on illicit drugs influenced by social and political changes?

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The Opium Law was initially introduced to the Netherlands in 1912 at the First International Opium Conference. The First International Opium Conference was held in an effort to control drugs that were physically harmful and highly addictive. The drugs that were focused on included cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, and amphetamines.

In 1976, the Opium Law was revisited due to new drugs utilized by the nation's younger generation such as marijuana, ecstasy, benzos, and Lysergic Acid Diethylamine (LSD). The government realized that total elimination of drugs was unrealistic, so they decided to approach the news laws by differentiating the drugs and placing each drugs in categories based on how addictive they are and level of physical harm. The updated law made it legal to use and possess marijuana, as long as the amount of marijuana in possession was below a specified amount.

In 1980, the government updated the Opium Law to allow the sale of marijuana in coffee shops. In 1996, the Opium Law was updated to further control the sale of marijuana in coffee shops. Coffee shops could not grow their own marijuana. Instead, they had to purchase their marijuana from approved suppliers. Furthermore, they were not allowed to advertise, sell more than five grams to one individual, or keep more the five hundred grams in stock at a time. Minors under eighteen years of age were not allowed in coffee shops. Today, coffee shops in the Netherlands are able to sell marijuana, hash, and sedatives to the public.

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