A statement signed last week by nearly 40 mayors from across the Netherlands calls on the government to legalize soft drugs including cannabis and hashish as part of a campaign to fight organized crime and drug offenders infiltrating respectable companies and organizations. According to these mayors, the majority of whom hail from the Southern Netherlands, the issue must be given top priority in the next cabinet’s plans.
According to the manifesto, vulnerable individuals may be protected by removing the income of “criminals”. “By removing the criminal revenue model, we can protect vulnerable citizens,” it states. Further through the manifesto, the mayors describe cannabis as the “the perfect way to step towards big money” because “you can set up a medium-sized plantation with a few hundred euros and earn a couple of thousand every 10 weeks. Those earnings can then be ploughed back into more plantations, bigger plantations or in the import and production of hard drugs, and the really big cash.”
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema told city councillors at Thursday’s meeting that she, too, supports the manifesto. According to Dutch publication Het Parool, this is the first time that the mayor of the nation’s capital has voiced such strong support for the legalization of cannabis across the country.
Halsema has previously publicly been of the opinion that Amsterdam’s marijuana business is difficult to regulate, in part due to the high number of tourists, who account for about one-third of all cannabis sales in the nation. The mayor is currently working on plans which could potentially impose a tourist limitation in the city’s 166 coffeeshops. Non-residents are currently banned from visiting coffeeshops in some other parts of the Netherlands, although Amsterdam was granted an exception from this.
The unregulated “back door” coffeeshop system has been of great debate since the first license was issued in Amsterdam in 1995 to Coffeeshop Rusland. Many recent reports of Mayor Halsema’s efforts to better regulate Amsterdam’s cannabis dispensaries have recieved wide media attention. This, coupled with the Dutch Wiet Experiment being postponed indefinitely, signifies significant changes coming to Netherland’s Cannabis policy.