Battle against cannabis pointless
Outgoing Dutch police union head says policy to stop cannabis may actually lead to more crime.23 April 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - The outgoing chairman of the NPB Dutch police union, Hans van Duijn, says it is pointless to try and stop the supply of cannabis, arguing that the policy actually leads to more crime.
He would rather see soft drugs legalised in the Netherlands. He is also in favour of letting long-term addicts use hard drugs under supervision. In his opinion, this is the only way to effectively reduce the level of drugs-related crime.
Van Duijn believes investigating and prosecuting drug-related offences is taking up too much police time and says most senior police officers agree.
He points out that politicians are reluctant to look at the possibilities of legalising soft drugs, contending that international pressure is forcing them "to put their heads in the sand".
Many foreigners think marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, but this is far from the truth.
Outlets known as coffeeshops are allowed to sell up to five grams of cannabis products, but the rules governing the trade are very strict and often rather puzzling.
Buyers must be over 18, and absolutely no hard drugs may be sold.
Coffeeshops are neither allowed to advertise nor have stocks of more than 500 grams, but they are allowed to replenish their supplies when they need to.
It is also illegal to grow soft drugs for commercial purposes and so coffeeshop owners are reluctant to disclose information about their suppliers.
Van Duijn's call for an even more tolerant approach is likely to fall on deaf ears.
In March, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin announced he was preparing legislation to forbid shops selling equipment for the cultivation of marijuana. He is planning "a wide-ranging ban on everything that aids the production of cannabis".
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]
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