Authors: Toine Spapens
Abstract: Decriminalizing an illegal market may be a usefulstrategy for reducing crime. It is also necessary, however, to havea clear understanding of the nature of the illegal market beforeundertaking such an endeavor. Experiences in the Netherlandsshow that decriminalizing illegal markets may indeed result in asubstantial reduction of organized crime and other criminalactivities, if the regulatory system is designed adequately. Theseexperiences also show that such systems inherently lack flexibilityand that criminals are usually quick to re-enter the market whenunforeseen developments, particularly technical innovations andinternationalization, create new illegal business opportunities.