Cannabis in the global market: a comparison between the UK and the Netherlands

Francis Pakes, D. Silverstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


These are the lyrics of the recent UK number one bestselling single and top ten hit in the Dutch charts and they highlight the aphrodisiac and recreational qualities of cannabis in popular culture. It perhaps is perplexing that the song emanates (and was previously a top selling number one in the billboard 100) from the US, the key architect of the global cannabis prohibitionist agenda and infrastructure. As the song yo-yos up and down the international download charts and young people lip-sync to the merits of cannabis or even imitate their musical idols by smoking the drug, this article argues that globalization affects ‘cannabis’ in various ways. There is now a plethora of reports noting the persistence of cannabis use, the number of arrests and numbers of hectares cultivated as well as the serious medical problems associated with taking the drug (UNODC, 2009/10; [ACPO, 2010] and [Hoare, 2009]). Equally, there is a growing body of rigorous literature from those who campaign for change and decriminalisation, producing alternative statistics on use, scientific harm indices and reports which contradict the aforementioned messages of harm ( [Nutt et al., 2007], [Rawlins et al., 2008] and [MacCoun, 2010]). We do not want to rehash this debate here. Instead we want to argue that managing the tension between the legislative rigidity of global prohibitionist control regimes and a hedonistic and transgressive popular culture is a shared challenge for both the UK and The Netherlands. Secondly, that reflecting on the divergent acts of national governance is theoretically interesting, and empirically important. Thus the article will explore how the process of globalisation, by which we mean the global interconnectedness of individuals, societies, markets and information, has changed the contours of regulation regarding cannabis and reviews the ways in which two European states with very different approaches try to square the circle and regulate and control the use and supply of cannabis in a global market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Crime and Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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