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About MDMA policy: To Think (Tank) or not to Think (Tank)

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To Think (Tank) or not to Think (Tank)

The Netherlands - by Mr. Kaj Hollemans (KH Legal Advice) (columns KHLA).

In recent years I have been involved with the Think Tank MDMA Policy. Together with 17 other experts, I have investigated, based on the available scientific knowledge, which policy options can contribute to reducing the health risks associated with the use of MDMA and fighting crime related to production, distribution and sale of MDMA.

During three days, we scored 95 possible MDMA policy options on 27 different outcomes. In total, we thought about 2565 times what impact the introduction of a particular measure would have on health damage, crime, degree of use, environmental damage, etc. 

Based on this exercise, all results were then thrown into a large blender. That process ultimately resulted in an optimal model. This optimal model focuses on the regulation of the production and purchase and sale of MDMA, quality assurance, a tougher approach to crime and monitoring of use. Application of the optimal model will lead to a decrease in health damage, less consumption per user, less crime and less environmental damage. It could also potentially lead to a limited increase in the number of MDMA users.

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With a view to (political) feasibility, the Think Tank MDMA Policy has slightly modified the optimal model to the so-called , which has almost the same favorable outcomes.

Total score (sum of weighted estimates) - on MDMA policy
Total score (sum of weighted estimates)

In recent weeks the media the necessary attention spent on the report and the outcomes. Unfortunately, there was also discussion afterwards in the media because some organizations (the National Police and the Trimbos Institute) distanced themselves from the investigation. Yes, they had contributed as an expert and no, they did not agree with the results of the report.

I can't quite put this together. The model was partly created thanks to their input. My experience, as well as that of most of the other experts, was that that input was considered valuable during the scoring days. I found it very motivating and interesting to be in one room with people who know (even) more about drugs, addiction, crime and prevention.

The composition of the group of experts was very diverse and, in addition to representatives of the National Police, included a toxicologist, a psychologist, a pharmacologist, an anthropologist, an epidemiologist, a lawyer, researchers, prevention officers and other experts. All experts were invited on the basis of their personal knowledge and experience. Not because of their position or because of a specific political opinion. During the scoring days, there was plenty of room for discussion and conversations took place in a good, constructive atmosphere with mutual respect for each other's points of view. The sheer volume of ratings made it completely impossible to score strategically, eliminating any bias or “bias” by the model itself.

That Mr Daniel felt afterwards that he had to distance himself from the results of a report in which he himself contributed, I find significant. You can never get it right this way. If you do not invite him, it is blamed that the police were not allowed to think along. If you do invite him, he will disagree with any outcome that the police don't like. I therefore cannot separate his response from the police (ke) reality. 

Think Tank MDMA Policy Results and Recommendations
Think Tank MDMA Policy (afb)

What bothers me most is that he has alternative facts and baseless allegations The Think Tank tries to discredit MDMA Policy via the media and that with its statements it offers other political parties the space to ignore the results of the report.

Floor drain

Minister Grapperhaus was also quick to warn that The Netherlands the drain of the world if we legalize hard drugs. That is why, in the coming years, we must ban even more, act even harder and spend even more money on the fight against drugs. Otherwise the whole of society will go under. A well-known phenomenon. If administrators do not have substantive arguments, they can always fall back on sowing panic and scare tactics. 

I would like to pass on to Mr. Grapperhaus and the National Police the following wisdom from Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. If you are looking for different results, don't do the same again. ”

Prohibition does not work. More and more governments are recognizing that the war on drugs has failed. In the US, the country that once started the war on drugs, keep going more states move on to legalizing drugs. It has now also been scientifically demonstrated that regulating the production and sale of XTC leads to a decrease in health damage, less consumption per user, less crime and less environmental damage.

The Think Tank MDMA Policy report was intended as a first step to look at drug policy in a different way. But if the Minister of Justice and Security and the National Police are not willing to listen to alternatives and prefer to remain in their trenches, then we will achieve nothing.

Drugs Dialogue

As a result of my experiences in the Think Tank MDMA Policy, I developed the platform together with assistant professor Gjalt-Jorn Peters and consultant Willem Scholten Drugs Dialogue set up. A kind of think tank light, with which we want to promote a drug policy. A dialogue based on facts rather than prejudices. The platform bundles all assessments and arguments and on that basis enters into a dialogue with the local and national government.

Every month we place a new measure online that has to do with the current drug policy in the Netherlands. Visitors can assess this measure on the basis of five criteria: public health, crime, economy, environment and the image of the Netherlands abroad. Visitors can then compare their opinion with a panel of experts and revise it if necessary. This month's measure is: The production and sale of ecstasy must be regulated. Do you want your assessment to count? Then log in Drugs Dialogue and join in!

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