‘Liberal’ the Netherlands Joins War on Drugs
POSTED AT 12:34 PM ON MAY 29, 2011 BY MICHAEL VAN DER GALIEN
For some reason, the Dutch government has suddenly decided to wage war on marijuana. As most foreigners undoubtedly know, the Dutch ‘tolerate’ the use of this soft drug. Heck, it’s one of the primary reasons hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Amsterdam every year; that and the famous Red Light District.
Well, the government has now decided that enough is enough. Justice minister Ivo Opstelten announced last week that he’ll introduce a so-called weed-card. Dutchmen who want to smoke weed have to show this card to the coffeeshop owner. If they don’t own one, they can’t buy themselves a joint.
Although the card is obviously an annoyance to many Dutchmen, the ones truly hurt by it are the tourists; the card will only be available to Dutch citizens.
The Dutch tourist branch is, therefore, not exactly charmed by Opstelten’s plan. And why would they? They could very well face losses of hundreds of millions of euros – and that at a time when Europe’s economies are already struggling.
Not only will this plan be enormously costly, it’s also likely to be extremely ineffective: many tourists will undoubtedly find a Dutchman willing to buy some drugs for them (against a minor fee, of course). Perhaps they’ll even be able to buy it themselves – not in a coffee shop but at a street corner.
Which brings me to my third (and final) objection to Opstelten’s unsavory plan: drug dealers will undoubtedly take over the streets. Heck, perhaps even entire neighborhoods. And how is the government going to combat that? With the tiny, useless Dutch police force? Right. Well, that’s at least going to be… entertaining.
Being tough on crime is a wonderful idea, but declaring war on soft drugs isn’t exactly a smart move; especially not when a country is facing many other – real, rather than imagined – problems.
* Although I’m pro-legalization of soft drugs, by the way, I don’t use it myself. Just to make that clear.