De Jong: approval of cannabis pass false solution to drug problem

16 December 2010

De Jong: approval of cannabis pass false solution to drug problem

Today’s ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) authorising the issuance of a ‘cannabis pass’ entitling holders to buy limited quantities of cannabis in Maastricht’s coffee shops offers no real solution to the drug-related problem faced by border regions in the Netherlands. As things stand, anyone over 18 can buy limited quantities of soft drugs in the country’s so-called ‘coffee shops’, and the introduction of the pass, which will only be available to Dutch residents, is designed to put an end to drug-related tourism. SP-Euro-MP Dennis de Jonghas his doubts: ‘What’s needed now is a speedy proposal from the national authorities for effective regularisation and ultimately legalisation of cultivation and sale of soft drugs, instead of encouragement by the government of this false solution. A cannabis pass in Maastricht will simply lead to a ‘waterbed effect’, bouncing the problem from town to town and from the Coffeeshop to the street dealer.’

Dennis de JongDe Jong points to European research into drug-related nuisance which demonstrates that regularisation and legalisation of the market for soft drugs offers the most effective solution, preventing the merging of soft and hard drug markets. If cultivation is legalised soft drugs are taken completely out of the criminal circuit and the quality of the drugs can be controlled, as can the maximum quantity people can buy. Finally, legalisation would produce considerable sums in additonal revenue for national treasuries and the police could be redeployed for more important matters than possession of soft drugs.

De Jong notes that recent years have seen a gradual trend towards decriminalisation. Spain has allowed ‘cannabis clubs’, while in Belgium and the UK punishments are often not imposed for possession of small quantities, and ever more countries are permitting medical use. ‘Slowly but surely people appear to be reaching the conclusion that a tougher approach is not the best solution to problems associated with drugs. I intend once again to ask the European Commission to give its attention to recent research into the advantages of decriminalisation in the member states and to encourage discussions between the Netherlands and neighbouring countries over how best to deal with drug tourism.’

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