Soft drug

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The term soft drug is given sometimes to a range of drugs that are supposed to be less harmful than other drugs, called hard drugs. The main difference is that soft drugs cause only psychological addiction if at all, while hard drugs also cause physical addiction and damage the body in other ways. Examples of soft drugs include: cannabis and hallucinogens such as psilocybe mushrooms, and peyote. Drugs such as alcohol and nicotine, although generally legal, are not considered "soft" (in fact because they are harmful and strongly addictive these should be called "hard").

The difference between soft drugs and hard drugs is important in the drug policy of the Netherlands, where soft drugs are dealt with much lighter, up to being for sale as such in clearly recognisable coffeeshops, than hard drugs.

Recently, a new definition for soft drug has come into use. This definition refers to a drug which undergoes predictable metabolism to inactive metabolites after exerting its therapeutic effect. The ophthalmic drug loteprednol (Alrex, Lotemax) is one example of this kind of 'soft drug', as it undergoes hydrolysis into inactive carboxylic acid metabolites.

The Dutch drug policy considers synthetic and semi-synthetic hallucinogens (such as LSD and MDMA) to be hard drugs even when they have very similar action to soft drugs (for example in comparing peyote to LSD). These drugs are seen to have a higher risk potential mainly because of their clandestine sources, and the possibility that they are contaminated or mixed with hard drugs such as methamphetamine or heroin.

An important difference between the Dutch policy and the policy in most other countries, is the difference between hard drugs and soft drugs. In the Opium law substances like heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD and ecstasy are called hard drugs. Hard drugs have a high addiction risk and many of the users end up in the criminal circuit. Those drugs have an unacceptable risk. Alcohol and tobacco are drugs, accepted by society. They damage users and society and are (in this light) best comparable to hard drugs. Hash and marijuana, but also sleep and relaxing agents like valium are called soft drugs. Soft drugs do not have a great risk attached when used sparingly and recreatively. However, use at work, study or while driving are strongly discouraged, as well as combined use with alcohol. The government classifies the risks of soft drugs as 'acceptable'. The use of hash and marijuana in a limited, controlled trade are tolerated ('gedoogd', 'gedoogbeleid'). (Translated from (

See also

External links

  • Erowid ( Drug Information

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