News of: Wednesday, April 27 2005,
A survey by newspaper Trouw has shown that the mayors of the 30 largest cities of the Netherlands are in majority in favour of legalization of the production of soft drugs.
Twenty of the 30 mayors are in favour of legalization, 4 are against, 6 have not given their opinion.
The background of the (long lasting) discussion is the specific situation in the Netherlands that sale of soft drugs (marihuana) is tolerated, under strict conditions, in places called coffeeshops. It is, however, illegal to produce marihuana and sell to the coffeeshops. Coffeeshops are allowed to possess 500 grams of marihuana, but are officially not allowed to buy this stock.
This is usually called the 'backdoor problem'.
Although production of marihuana is illegal, it is very profitable, and therefore many plantations exist, often in normal houses in residential areas. Hundreds of plantations get rounded up every year by the police. It is a daily activity.
The mayors (responsible for law and order in their cities) are faced with these illegal plantations, and with the fact that they lead to dangerous situations in neighbourhoods. The necessary growing lamps are often unprofessionally installed, and the electricity is mostly stolen in order to prevent discovery by the electricity provider. Also, rounding up the plantations costs a lot of police resources and money.
The current minister of Justice, Mr Donner, is in favour of tougher law enforcement, and is against experiments with legal production. Another minister (Mr Pechtold) is in favour of legalization in a European framework. Today, parliament will discuss the opposing views of the ministers.