Dutch village to ban cannabis
The conservative village of Urk, part of the Dutch 'bible belt', wants to ban the use and possession of cannabis in its public spaces. A spokesperson for the Urk council said anyone caught while smoking a joint or in the possession of cannabis would be fined.
The Urk council on Tuesday evening unanimously expressed support for the Mayor and his aldermen's proposal to ban soft drugs. If adopted, the measure would put Urk's soft drug policy at variance with national policy which condones the possession of a maximum of five grams of cannabis.
A spokesperson said Mayor Kroon disagrees with the government and the council shares his opinion. The Urk council is expected to adopt the cannabis ban during a council meeting scheduled for 3 March.
Labour Party MP Lea Bouwmeester has asked Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten whether Urk has the right to deviate from national policy. She also wanted to know whether the minister believes a total ban on smoking cannabis is an effective way of protecting children's health. The MP expressed support for Urk's decision to take action against its drug problems, but said she would have preferred the council to focus on prevention.
A spokesperson for the justice ministry said that local councils have the authority to ban the use of soft drugs in designated areas, but added that this should take place in consultation with the police and the Public Prosecutor's Office.
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