Aim To estimate the public spending on drug policy in the Netherlands.
Methods Calculation and extrapolation of expenditures from 2003 budgets of all Ministries of the national government, annual reports from other governments and agencies and White Papers, supported by interviews with and information obtained otherwise from policy makers. Expenditures were allocated to four drug policy functions, i.e. prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. Where exact data on expenditures were lacking, approximations were made representing expert judgement.
Results The total drug policy spending estimate in 2003 was 2185 million Euros. Allocation to functions amounted to 42 million Euros for prevention, 278 million for treatment, 220 million for harm reduction and 1646 million for enforcement.
Conclusions Drug law enforcement is clearly the dominant expenditure. This can be said with certainty despite the noted pitfalls in estimating drug policy expenditures. Many of the available data are not precise. To achieve better figures, a much more detailed analysis would be needed (which is not planned for the foreseeable future). Even then, it would be hard to separate the drug component from more general budgets.