Dutch News

14 February 2014
Better regulated than clandestine cannabis

In an essay in the Dutch Volkskrant Derrick Bergman, spokesman of the Association in favour of lifting the Cannabis ban (VOC), reacts to a column that was published earlier this month. The column was about the manifesto from 35 Dutch mayors that want to start experiments with regulated cannabis cultivation. Berman takes the edge off most of the arguments and comes up with some interesting facts.

Bergman: ‘350 mayors did not sign the manifesto, but more than 70% of the coffee shops are located in the 41 municipalities that signed’. The column also asks the question if the liberal pensioned ex-minister Frits Bolkestein, who also supports the initiative suddenly became left-wing. The answer is that the prominent liberal VVD member is already supporter of the legalisation of cannabis for many years. He just stayed liberal, Bergmans writes.

The regulation of cannabis cultivation can count on support of 73 of the 150 seats of the lower house. From the Dutch population 65% supports legalisation. From the PVV supporters this is 55% supports legalisation of cannabis, and from the members of the liberal party VVD 65%.

According to the previously published column the city of Roosendaal is very satisfied with the closure and ban of all coffee shops. According to Derrick Bergman the province Brabant, where Roosendaal is located, the illegal sales of drugs is much larger than elsewhere in the Netherlands and that the use of the party drug GHB has risen enormously.

In the column it is insinuate that minors get access to coffee shops, but even hardliner, crime fighter and minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten admits that the age criteria is maintained rigorously by coffee shops. Bergman states that the column writer ignores the main goal of the Dutch drug policy, namely the separation of the soft- and the hard drugs markets. In the latest report of the Dutch addiction and drugs institute it says the following about the effect of the policy: 'Heroine use is very low in the Netherlands. Heroine is also not popular with youngsters. According to the last estimations the number of problematic opiate users is approximately 18.000.

According to Bergman also the mentioned large export of Dutch cannabis to Turkey is total nonsense. He explains that cannabis is cultivated throughout Europe. 'The Netherlands now even became importer of cannabis from Spain and the Czech Republic. The estimation of the cannabis export is not 80%. According to a criminologist 12% is more realistic. Also the observation that the Dutch cannot legalise cannabis because of international treaties is wrong. Even a member of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands stated that treaties are not in the way.'

Bergman ends his essay with what is to him the worst part of the column, the fact that no cannabis is much healthier than regulated cultivation of cannabis. 'This should be explained to the thousands of patients that regularly get prescribed cannabis at Dutch pharmacies. And although no alcohol is better than regulated alcohol, for your health regulated alcohol is preferred above alcohol from clandestine distilleries.'

To Derrick Bergman the Volkskrant column writer choses the side of organised crime, that takes over the cultivation of cannabis after the increase of repressive measures. 'It is wrong that a million Dutch cannabis users use a product that is absolutely not controlled. Internationally the Dutch cannabis ban is becoming hopelessly outdated, but in the Netherlands the hemp war is ongoing. The truth is the first victim.'







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