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Drugs in Europe: Not Mind-Stretching Enough

Liberal drug policies have spread across Europe. But some early adopters are slipping behind.

On a cobbled street lined with tourist shops in central Prague, a darkened storefront advertises cannabis-flavoured beer and absinthe ice cream. Inside, chocolate bars featuring Bob Marley’s face are for sale alongside “mushroom cookies” and glass bongs. Nothing stronger is on offer. But in a country where the possession of drugs is mostly tolerated, it is not hard to find the real stuff elsewhere: dealers loiter in the city’s main square, and barmen sell cannabis under the counter.

On paper, most European countries still have strict laws on drug-taking (see map). But over the past few decades most have relaxed their enforcement of those laws, fining or warning recreational drug users rather than sending them to jail. Three countries have led the way. In the Netherlands, although possession of drugs is technically illegal, cannabis has been...

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