Three United Nations Conventions provide the international legal framework on drug control, instructing countries to limit drug supply and use to medical and scientific purposes. Yet, debate continues on the decriminalisation, or even legalisation, of drugs, particularly cannabis. Models under development for the legal supply of cannabis are described in this analysis, as well as some of the questions they raise.
Part of the ‘Perspectives on drugs’ (PODs) series, launched alongside the annual European Drug Report, these designed-for-the-web interactive analyses aim to provide deeper insights into a selection of important issues.
Two-thirds of the country's 650 cannabis cafes continue to sell marijuana to tourists, despite the ban implemented at the beginning of this year. In total 111 cafes in 33 cities - including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague - took part in the survey, set up by Epicurus, a foundation launched by coffee shop owners. The survey shows there is a sharp north-south divide. (See also: Deal struck in Maastricht that could let tourists back into cannabis cafes)
The decision to ban foreigners not resident in the Netherlands from the country’s cannabis cafes has led to an ‘explosion’ in drugs-related crime in the south of the country, the Algemeen Dagblad reports. The government’s decision to turn the cafes into members’ only clubs in the southern provinces in May 2012 led to a sharp rise in street dealing. The paper bases its claim on police and city council figures.
Police have raided several coffeeshops in Maastricht after their owners indicated they would revert to selling soft drugs to foreign visitors. Coffeeshops said on Sunday that German and Belgian customers would no longer be turned away, despite warnings from the city’s mayor Onno Hoes of repercussions if they let foreigners in. The police raided the Mississippi, a floating coffee shop, on Monday night. Around 15 non-Dutch residents were inside the boat at the time. Police led away the owner and confiscated the ship’s supplies. (See also: Maastricht coffee shop faces three-month closure)
Maastricht mayor Onno Hoes has warned the city's 13 cannabis cafes that he will take legal action if they go ahead with plans to sell marijuana to non-residents on Sunday. The local cannabis cafe association issued a statement earlier saying that all outlets will sell to people who do not live in the Netherlands when the Netherlands celebrates the end of World War II. (See also: Maastricht to get less strict on cannabis sales to foreigners?)
At least 10 of the Netherlands’ local councils have already or will soon submit plans to the justice ministry asking to be allowed to approve commercial marijuana growing. Newspaper Trouw showed councils are highly critical of official government policy on marijuana and say legalised production would remove organised crime from the equation. ‘Marijuana does not fall from the sky,’ said Heerlen mayor Paul Depla. (See also: Plan to ban strong marijuana unworkable, experts say)
The Dutch city of Eindhoven has come up with a proposal it believes will curb the illegal supply of cannabis to the city’s cannabis coffee shops: they suggest growing it themselves. “The Eindhoven municipality has come out in favor of a pilot project regarding the controlled cultivation of cannabis,” Eindhoven’s mayor Rob van Gijzel said in a letter, a copy of which was handed to local media. “This suggestion is aimed at using controlled cultivation to curb the ‘back-door’ problems associated with illegal supply to coffee shops.” (See also: Friesland councillors support move to legalise cannabis production)
Nederland is met zijn drugsbeleid in de achterhoede terecht gekomen, zo stelt Martin Jelsma. Zo zijn Uruguay en de Amerikaanse staten Washington en Colorado met hun besluit om de cannabismarkt van teelt tot gebruik te legaliseren, Nederland voorbijgestreefd. Ze schenden daarbij de VN-verdragen en lijken daarmee hervorming van het wereldwijde drugsbeleid af te dwingen. Ook vanuit het door drugsgeweld geteisterde Latijns-Amerika wordt de roep om legalisering van de drugsmarkt steeds groter.
De PDF van dit artikel is met toestemming van de redactie overgenomen uit de Internationale Spectator, maandblad voor internationale politiek, uitgegeven door de Koninklijke Van Gorcum te Assen namens het Nederlands Instituut voor Internationale Betrekkingen ‘Clingendael’ te Den Haag.
Tourists will not be banned from a majority of the Netherlands’ cannabis cafes, despite new residency requirements which came into effect on January 1, according to a survey by NOS television. Coffee shops are required by law to ensure only official residents of the Netherlands are allowed to buy cannabis. However, the legislation gives scope for "local circumstances" to be taken into account. A survey by The Amsterdam Herald found more than a dozen municipalities are not planning to enforce the rule that customers must show evidence that they live in the Netherlands. (See also: Foreigners still welcome in Dutch coffeeshops)
Amsterdam's mayor said he would formally ban students from smoking cannabis at school, making the city in the Netherlands the first to do so. Eberhard van der Laan's introduction of a law is the result of the country's drug policy. Under the "tolerance" principle, cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police cannot prosecute for possession of small amounts of the drug.
The Dutch government is planning to classify strong strains of marijuana and cannabis as a Class A drug alongside heroin and cocaine. Coffee shops will only be able to offer cannabis with a THC level of below 15%. More details of the government's plans to drop the controversial membership scheme for coffee shops were also explained. While coffee shops will only be open to people with official documents which show they live in the Netherlands, it will be up to local authorities to decide how to introduce the new rules. (See also: Cannabis pass abolished? Not really)
Tourists can continue to use Amsterdam’s 220 cannabis cafes, even if they are not resident in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant quotes the capital’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan as saying. The new cabinet is pressing ahead with banning non-residents from the country's cannabis cafes, but says enforcing the ban will be carried out together with local councils, taking local policy into account. This means the city can take its own line.
The new coalition government of conservative liberals (VVD) and social-democrats (PvdA) presented its coalition agreement on Monday. They agreed to abolish the cannabis pass, but access to coffeeshops remains limited to residents of the Netherlands. Customers need to identify themselves with an identity card or a residence permit together with a certificate of residence. Non-resident foreigners are still banned. In other words, there will be no cannabis pass, but the policy continues.
The new cabinet plans to press ahead with restricting access to the country's cannabis cafes to local residents but is dropping the introduction of compulsory registration of users via a membership card system. 'The wietpas will go but entrance to coffee shops will be restricted to residents with ID or a residency permit and a local council statement of residency,’ the coalition agreement states. (See also: Cannabis pass abolished? Not really)
The compromise would end the obligation on cannabis cafe owners to register users and would allow people to buy soft drugs all over the country. However 'foreigners' would be refused entry. Labour and the VVD are currently in talks on forming a new government and the wietpas is one of the areas where agreement still has to be reached. The VVD wants to press on with the new system but the Labour party is opposed. (See also: Soft drugs in the Netherlands)
Maastricht - formerly a mecca for drug tourists from across western Europe - has called for police reinforcements to handle "aggressive" street pushers, who have taken over almost all trade in marijuana and cannabis since authorities introduced tighter controls on legal outlets. The Dutch town's Mayor Onno Hoes wants to double the number of dedicated police officers in order to control the black market, which has benefited from the region's draconian "weed pass" law.
Contrariamente alle aspettative, le elezioni olandesi di settembre non sono state decisive per il futuro dei coffeeshop. I partiti a favore delle restrizioni ai coffeeshop (o addirittura per la loro abolizione) hanno ottenuto 77 seggi su 150, mentre i contrari al cannabis pass e/o a favore della fornitura legale di cannabis ai coffeeshop ne hanno ottenuti 73. E per governare c’è bisogno di una coalizione.
The Breda city council is to urge the new coalition cabinet to scrap the introduction of a members only system for the country’s cannabis cafes, arguing it has created more problems than it has solved. Labour councillors have taken the lead in writing to the cabinet negotiators Henk Kamp and Wouter Bos, urging them to focus on solving problems associated with soft drugs rather than create new ones. The four big cities, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, are opposed to the introduction of the card system. (See also: Government says it will press on with cannabis card plans)