Abraham, Manja D., Hendrien L. Kaal, & Peter D.A. Cohen (2002), Licit and illicit drug use in the Netherlands 2001. Amsterdam: CEDRO/Mets en Schilt. Pp. 227-240.
© Copyright 2002 CEDRO Centrum voor Drugsonderzoek.

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Licit and illicit drug use in the Netherlands 2001

Chapter 7: Places of acquisition of various drugs

Manja D. Abraham, Hendrien L. Kaal, & Peter D.A. Cohen


7.1 Introduction

This final chapter gives an overview of the places where drugs are acquired. All last year users of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, mushrooms, smartdrugs, and performance enhancing drugs were asked where they obtained the drugs they had used. The results of these questions are reported for two age groups. First, the tables show the answers to these questions for the 12 to 17-year-olds. This group is not allowed to enter coffeeshops. Smartshops usually do not allow entrance to people under 18 years of age. The second part of the tables shows the places of acquisition for last year users of 18 years and older. The answer categories presented to performance enhancing drug users were different to those presented to other drug users, and are therefore discussed in a separate paragraph.

Only the table for the Netherlands as a whole provides percentages. These are unweighted percentages of the total number of mentions of each source, not the number of respondents who answered the question. The number of last year users per sample is generally small. Earlier, it was mentioned that it was decided that no reliable conclusions could be drawn based on groups of a size smaller than 50. For this same reason it was felt that presenting percentages for the different strata would suggest an accuracy which cannot be obtained with these sample sizes. Also, as more than one answer could be given to each question by each respondent, percentages could lead to confusing interpretations. For these reasons, in the tables for the separate strata, only unweighted numbers of mentions are given for each place of acquisition.

7.2 Cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, mushrooms and smartdrugs

Table 7.1 shows the nationwide results regarding the place of acquisition of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, mushrooms and smartdrugs in 2001. Table 7.2 compares the 2001 figures to the 1997 figures. Tables 7.3 to 7.10 present the unweighted number of mentions of places of acquisition per drug for each of the samples.

In the 12 to 17 years old age group relatives and friends are the most important source of all drugs but one: only for mushrooms is another source more important. Mushrooms are acquired from smartshops by more than half of the young users. The coffeeshop is an important place of acquisition for cannabis, but not the most important place. Only in Amsterdam is this different: in the capital coffeeshops are a more important source of cannabis than any other source for youngsters as well as for adults. For cannabis, a slight increase in the importance of 'other places of entertainment' can be seen, but in general compared to 1997 not much has changed.

Amongst last year users of 18 years and older friends and relatives are also very important as a source of drugs. The majority of cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy and hallucinogens users get their drugs this way. Cannabis is mainly obtained in coffeeshops, and mushrooms and smartdrugs in smartshops, but for these drugs friends, family and acquaintances are still the second most important source. For smartdrugs there is an important third category: 'other'. As these substances are often also available from health shops and whole food shops, as well as through the Internet, it is likely that this category refers mainly to these options.

For cannabis, there are no major changes since 1997. For amphetamine, the category 'other places of entertainment' has become more important. Although it is still the case that the vast majority of ecstasy and amphetamine users do not acquire their drugs at places of entertainment such as clubs and discotheques, their number seems to have increased. For mushrooms the importance of the smartshops has grown considerably, which is in line with the growing number of smartshops. Finally, the home dealer seems to have lost ground even more for all drugs.

There are no great differences in sources of drugs between the various address density areas. In all, friends, relatives and acquaintances are still the most important source of illicit drugs. As was concluded four years ago, the existence of shops where the use of particular drugs is tolerated creates an official retail possibility, but does not eliminate the importance of non-official circles for these drugs. This is the case now as it was in 1997. The coffeeshops do not seem to be an important source of other drugs than cannabis: of the 743 mentions 1.7 per cent was as a source of smartdrugs; 1.1 per cent for mushrooms; 0.8 per cent ecstasy; 0.5 per cent cocaine; and less than 0.5 other non-cannabis drugs. In all, 95.5 per cent of the mentions of the coffeeshop as a source of drugs was concerning cannabis. This suggests that the separation of markets, one of the aims of the coffeeshop policy, has succeeded.

7.3 Performance enhancing drugs

The sources of performance enhancing drugs are shown in table 7.11. The number of last year users of these drugs is too small to make any firm statements: only 59 respondents reported last year use. The most important source of performance enhancing drugs is the trainer, sports club or gym. One third of all mentioned referred to this source. Second most important are friends, relatives and acquaintances, followed by doctors' prescriptions and other sources. This is a remarkable shift compared to 1997: in that year friends were by far the most important source, whereas trainer, sports club or gym were only mentioned by less than one tenth of the last year users. As was the case in 1997, the total number of answers is only slightly higher than the total number of last year users. This means that most users of performance enhancing drugs have only one source for obtaining their drugs.