Cabinet rejects cannabis boulevard
27 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet has reaffirmed its opposition to setting up a cannabis boulevard in border regions where coffeeshops can be established en masse, claiming it is undesirable in the campaign against drugs tourism.
27 April 2005
AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet has reaffirmed its opposition to setting up a cannabis boulevard in border regions where coffeeshops can be established en masse, claiming it is undesirable in the campaign against drugs tourism.
Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Democratic Reform Minister Alexander Pechtold made the announcement during an emergency debate about the nation's soft drugs policy with MPs on Wednesday.
Pechtold landed himself in hot water on Monday when he came out in favour of cannabis boulevards, a plan proposed by Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers to combat inner city drugs problems.
The Democrat D66 minister said it could be an interim solution, but his remarks ran contrary to the coalition government accord. He is also an advocate of the European-wide legalisation of soft drugs.
Minister Donner — who is doggedly waging a crackdown on coffeeshops and drug problems — subsequently met with Pechtold on Tuesday and said after the meeting that the two ministers did not have a difference of opinion.
The joint statement on Wednesday also said that legalising soft drugs in the Netherlands is not an option.
The ministers said if municipal councils want to move coffeeshops to city limits, it is their responsibility to decide and arrange this. But both Donner and Pechtold are opposed to "concentrated locations" of coffeeshops.
The statement comes after reports that a majority of the mayors of the 30 largest Dutch cities support the legalisation of cannabis.
Twenty of the 30 mayors — including the mayors of Amsterdam, Leeuwarden, Utrecht, Lelystad, Deventer and Tilburg — are in favour of legalising cannabis.
Four of the mayors backed a crackdown on illegal cannabis cultivation, while six were unavailable or refused to comment, newspaper Trouw reported on Tuesday.
Utrecht Mayor Annie Brouwer pointed to current fire risks, tension in residential area and the illegal tapping of electricity as reason for setting up a regulated cannabis industry.
The current policy of tolerating the sale of cannabis but outlawing its cultivation has led to criticism that the regulations are contradictory.
A new survey by pollster Maurice de Hond found that 49 percent of Dutch people support the legalisation of cannabis, while one-third would prefer stricter laws. Some 63 percent are opposed to people cultivating cannabis in their home.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news