The number of cannabis plantations uncovered by the Belgian judiciary has been rising steadily, and the relocation of cannabis production to the Low Countries (i.e. Belgium and the Netherlands) has often been associated with a growing professionalisation of its cultivation and the involvement of organised crime, and with a more noxious and hazardous product compared with cannabis imported from elsewhere (due to a higher concentration of the most psychoactive chemical in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, and thus a stronger potency, and to the presence of remnants of pesticides and other toxic chemicals).
Danish drug policy has been reversed from liberal to more repressive, especially in 2003, when the Danish liberal-conservative government that had been in office since 2001 launched their official policy on drugs, The Fight Against Drugs: action plan against drug misuse. This action plan emphasised a more repressive drug policy in which priority was given to law enforcement, although an expansion of treatment facilities and prevention initiatives was also planned. The overall aim was to tighten the laws on drug dealing and drug use and to increase the penalties for these offences. The plan explicitly stated that the policy was to take a zero tolerance approach towards any kind of drug dealing.
Substances that contain ephedra are known to aid weight loss and enhance athletic performance. Until April 2004 in the Netherlands, products containing this substance were available in pharmacies but also in so-called 'smart shops' (establishments where legal psychoactive substances are sold, usually for leisure purposes), where they were marketed as drugs for recreational use. On 6 April 2004, the Dutch government classified ephedra alkaloids as a medical drug in the Act on the Provision of Medical Drugs.