Legalisation of soft drugs is the intelligent option

3 May 2010

Legalisation of soft drugs is the intelligent option

Current Dutch policy in relation to soft drugs must be scrapped and the sale and cultivation of soft drugs legalised. So argued SP candidate Michiel van Nispen at today's 'Cannabis Tribunal' in The Hague. Presided over by former national Parliament Chair Frans Weisglas, debate centred on the Netherlands' policies on soft drugs. “Legalising soft drugs would have many advantages," said Van Nispen. "It would in the end be better from a public health point of view, you could keep a more focussed check on things, give information and get cannabis out of criminal circles. Debate over drugs policy has not been possible in the last few years because the governing coalition parties, the Christian Democrats and Labour, have been at each other's throats. That has to change straight after the elections of 9th June."

Michiel van Nispen at the Cannabis Tribunal

During the Cannabis Tribunal, Leading Christian Democrats Gerd Leers and Dries van Agt expressed open disagreement with their own party's soft drugs policy. Van Nispen stressed that he was in complete agreement with Gerd Leers 'wise' remark that in the rarefied atmosphere of The Hague he had been a supporter of a ban on soft drugs, but in practice back in Maastricht had come to the conclusion that this was not an intelligent policy. "This is the kernel of our discussion," said Van Nispen. "Neither emotion nor ideology should prevail over drugs policy, but reason and intelligence. Which policy is most effective and which prevents, as much as is possible, damage to public health? That's what it should be about. Only when you regulate cultivation for and supply to coffeeshops will you be able to impose demands regarding the quality of the stuff and control it. In addition, better information must be given over the risks, certainly to young people.

Former PM Dries van Agt speaks out against his Christian Democrat party's position on soft drugs

The debate also focused on ways of tackling drug-related criminality. Van Nispen expressed the view that "the ban on soft drugs simply offers greater chances to criminals. It is a known fact in criminology that the more repressive pressure you put on any phenomenon, the more lucrative the criminal business becomes. Combating soft drugs costs society an enormous amount of money. It's estimated that we could save around 420 million euros by legalising soft drugs. The Netherlands should proudly spread the word on an international level about the successes of our soft drugs policy."

That this is not happening is seen by former Prime Minister Dries van Agt too as a sad affair. "If international rules are hindering us from conducting an intelligent drugs policy," he said, "then we should be making efforts to have these international rules amended, or to find space within the existing treaties. We must now really dare to make the intelligent choice and take steps to legalise soft drugs."

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