Coffeeshops face ban on strong cannabis
6 April 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Soft drugs such as the extra strong Dutch variant of cannabis and hash might soon be banned, forcing coffeeshops in the Netherlands to cut back on the products they offer. The Cabinet is set to discuss the proposal on Thursday.
6 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — Soft drugs such as the extra strong Dutch variant of cannabis and hash might soon be banned, forcing coffeeshops in the Netherlands to cut back on the products they offer. The Cabinet is set to discuss the proposal on Thursday.
Research conducted by the Trimbos Institute for addiction indicates that the THC level — the workable agent in cannabis and hash — has increased significantly over the years, meaning that marijuana could now be considered a hard drug.
Nederwiet is an extra strong variant of marijuana. It is grown in professionally-equipped greenhouses in the Netherlands and is often referred to as skunk. It is much in demand in Dutch coffeeshops.
And in its annual Drugs Monitor report, the institute said last month that the THC level in Nederwiet has increased to 15 percent compared with 9 percent in 1999. The increase is due to the professional growing techniques.
Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst are thus urging the Cabinet to conduct further research into THC levels, public news service NOS reported on Tuesday.
A possible ban on very strong cannabis would force coffee shops to change their assortment of cannabis. Nederwiet would in future only be allowed to be sold if its THC content was significantly reduced.
The Trimbos Institute said that between 2.5 and 3 percent of adult Dutch nationals regularly use cannabis. There are between 30,000 and 80,000 cannabis addicts and just 3,500 ask for help, it said.
Donner and Hoogervorst are also calling for a tougher approach to the cross-border drug tourism. Border area municipalities and neighbouring countries have complained for years about the problem.
The open supply of cannabis draws thousands of "drug tourists" from France, Belgium and Germany into Dutch border towns. This often results in high-speed car chases between the police and people trying to smuggle drugs back over the border.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet is also moving to discourage alcohol use among young motorists by reducing the permitted level of alcohol for motorists who have had their driver's licence for less than five years.
Transport Minister Karla Peijs intends to restrict beginning motorists to a blood alcohol level of just 0.2 rather than 0.5 percent. This means that motorists could be over the limit after one drink.
An annual 325 road deaths occur as a result of alcohol and 25 percent of accidents are caused by young men aged between 18 and 24, accounting for 80 deaths each year, RTL reported. About 240,000 obtain a driver's licence each year.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news