Crime researcher: Dutch drug pass scheme wont work

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An ID scheme for cannabis sales in Dutch coffeeshops will only create more problems, says Marije Wouters of Amsterdam University’s Bonger Institute for Criminology.

On Thursday the European Court of Justice will decide whether the Dutch government’s plans specifically to deter foreign ‘drug tourists’ will clash with European Union free trade rules. The minority rightwing coalition is proposing to require coffeeshop customers to register for a special pass before they can buy cannabis.

If the pass scheme is introduced, users will simply purchase cannabis through friends and family, says Marije Wouters. What’s more, illegal dealers will cash in by taking orders by mobile phone and delivering directly to customers. Underage cannabis users and ‘drug tourists’ from neighbouring countries will turn to the illicit mobile dealers.

Harm reduction A further government proposal to ban coffeeshops within 350 metres of schools will cause chaos in Amsterdam, says Ms Wouters. Under the new rule, only 36 of the capital’s more than 200 coffeeshops would be allowed to remain open, thus skewing the balance between supply and demand.

Yet it is the large coffeeshops in border towns like Roosendaal that draw in day-tripping tourists from Belgium, Germany and France and create nuisance, the researcher points out. Amsterdam’s small-scale cannabis retailers don’t produce any such problems.

Marije Wouters says she favours an extension of the Dutch public health-based approach of harm reduction, by regulating the wholesale cannabis trade to coffeeshops. At present only retail cannabis sales are decriminalised.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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