Dutch News

14 January 2013
Test trail on Dutch ban local public soft drugs use 18 suspects have to appear in a Rotterdam court this week

The Dutch justice department is going to court to find out if it is possible for municpalities to act against the annoyance of people that use soft drugs in certeain area's. In the past it has turned out that it is impossible for the police to act against people smoking soft drugs in public terrain using the existing drugs laws. Now 18 suspects have to appear in a Rotterdam court. The public prosecutor sees it as a test trial.


In July 2011 the Dutch Council of State decided that municipalities cannot act against people smoking cannabis using the local laws. Amsterdam and Rotterdam have taken on local laws that give the mayor the power to forbid soft drugs smoking in certain areas. Although the lawyer that defends one of the Rotterdam suspects also thinks that local laws do not count, he admits that the problem is that the soft drugs toleration guidelines are a national responsibility.


After the verdict of the Council of State the Rotterdam police stopped writing tickets for public soft drugs smoking, but after asking for advice at the scientific bureau of the public prosecutors department, some public soft drugs users have now been arrested in the centre of town and brought to trail, to see if there might be a way to still convict them through local legislation.


In October last year Amsterdam won the same kind of case. The judge stated that the local laws can be admitted to fight soft drugs smoking annoyance, as long as the goals of the implementation is different from the national drug laws, namely the protection of the national health. The suspect went into appeal, so also in Amsterdam it is not yet clear if people can smoke in public where ever they want.


It seems that it is quite difficult to ban soft drugs smoking, since it is officially forbidden anyway. The sales and use of soft drugs is not legal in the Netherlands, it is only tolerated. In a period where the Dutch are struggling with their world famous drugs policy and where foreigners only can purchase soft drugs in half of the Dutch cities at the moment, the court will now judge on the ban of native and local use of soft drugs.







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