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An Economic Perspective on the Legalisation Debate: The Dutch Case


Martijn Adriaan Boermans

Hogeschool Utrecht, NL
About Martijn Adriaan
M.A. Boermans, MPhil, is a PhD Candidate and works for the Innovation and Business Centre (InnBus) where he also is Lecturer. His other works include economic papers on international trade. He holds a research master degree in Multidisciplinary Economics from the Universiteit Utrecht and obtained his undergraduate degree from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
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This paper reviews how economic modelling provides a deeper understanding of drug markets. The exercise focuses on ‘soft drugs’ (cannabinoids) in the Netherlands and outlines the effects of prohibition and legalisation. The purpose is to present an overview of analytical tools to non-economists. Based on a basic supply and demand framework the impact of enforcement, externalities, producer incentives and demand elasticity are highlighted. Results indicate that social welfare is maximized under legalisation given limited externalities associated with consumption and price inelastic demand. We recommend a liberalized soft drugs market that requires inter alia taxation, complemented with various health measures like quality controls and public campaigns. The Dutch case is exemplary, as this economic perspective offers universal building blocks relevant to the legalisation debate in other countries, and potentially to other substances.

How to Cite: Boermans, M.A., 2010. An Economic Perspective on the Legalisation Debate: The Dutch Case. Amsterdam Law Forum, 2(4), pp.29–46. DOI:
Published on 26 Oct 2010.
Peer Reviewed


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