At the beginning of this month the paper on new MDMA policy “Developing a new national MDMA policy: Results of a multi-decision multi-criterion decision analysis” published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. For me this is the first, real, official scientific publication that has my name under. I am quite proud of that.
For more information I refer to my column from November 2020, in which the ideal model of the Think Tank MDMA Policy has already been discussed. Our publication will probably not immediately lead to a change in Dutch drug policy, but with the elections approaching, you never know.
Unfortunately, the political landscape in the Netherlands is still too focused on subversion (another term for the war on drugs), criminalize and prohibit, and there seems to be insufficient room for a different approach.
How different is that in the American state of Oregon where as of this week the police are no longer allowed to arrest people for possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD or other hard drugs. The possession of small quantities of hard drugs has been decriminalized there.
Instead of a criminal prosecution, people can now face a $ 100 fine or a health assessment that could lead to help at one of the new addiction centers. These centers are funded from the millions of dollars in tax revenues from the legalized cannabis industry in the state of Oregon. Proponents of this new approach call it a revolutionary move for the United States.
In comparison, in the Netherlands the possession of hard drugs is prohibited by law and can be prosecuted. It is true that serves according to the directions Opium Act of the Public Prosecution Service in the case of a small amount for personal use, the assistance to the user must come first and prosecution only takes place in support of the assistance, but the possession of hard drugs is and remains a criminal offense.
I think it's quite brilliant that Oregon has chosen to use some of the tax revenues from the sale of legal cannabis to help people who have problems with hard drugs. Portugal has had a similar policy since 2001, decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs and making people pay a fine or get help, but what Oregon has come up with is really next level.
How is that in the Netherlands? For years, we set an example for the rest of the world when it came to pragmatic and realistic drug policy. What will be said about drugs in the election programs of the Dutch political parties in 2021? What brilliant plans have they come up with when it comes to drug policy? An overview.
The VVD thinks it is liberal tolerance policy for soft drugs has lost its romance. Organized drug crime has grown into a real polder mafia that threatens our rule of law. That is why the VVD opts for a strict approach. The VVD wants to maintain the conditions for the sale of soft drugs, including only the sale of user quantities to adult persons. Point of sale operators are under an obligation to inform people about the harmful effects of soft drugs. The peace and security around points of sale is guaranteed with strict conditions in the permit and enforcement. Coffee shops that do not follow the rules or outlets that cause nuisance on the street are closed. Profits achieved are taken away by default at closing. Maximum sentences for production, trade and export of illegal drugs are doubled. Soft drugs can only be controlled in a controlled manner as the final part of a tough, creative and successful crime approach. This is also only possible when the harmfulness (toxicity, addiction risk, social effects) is limited in regulated circumstances, when there is low public support for keeping the drug forbidden and enforcing a prohibition requires an effort that is not reasonably required from the government. may be requested. The VVD wants to await the results of the ongoing experiment in closed coffee shop chain before any new steps can be taken towards regulating the cultivation of and trade in soft drugs.
The PVV advocates one hard approach of drug crime.
According to the CDA, our country has grown into a pivot in the international drug trade. Drug use as well as the production and transit of soft drugs, cocaine and synthetic drugs have gotten completely out of control. The nuisance has spread all over the country from the major cities. In the form of brutal violence, serious threats and the dumping of drug waste. We must not resign ourselves to the deterioration, the bills and the steady undermining of our society. It's time for a tougher approach. Releasing drugs is not going to solve this problem. On the contrary, we must move away from the normalization of drugs and drug use. Also for the yoga sniff and the weekend pill. We must invest and take action to reduce crime and protect society from further disruption. The CDA wants a clear change in drug policy and an end to the normalization and romance of drugs and drug use. Legalization of soft and hard drugs is out of the question. Education of young people about the dangers of drug use is being strengthened. With an extinction policy for coffee shops within five years, the CDA wants to reduce the number of points of sale, starting with a legal distance criterion to schools and sports facilities. We are introducing a new closing criterion to prevent the concentration of too many coffee shops in a small area. Drug criminals choose our country because of the mild penal climate. That is why penalties for drug trafficking and drug-related offenses are being increased and brought more in line with our neighboring countries.
The ChristenUnie advocates one drug-free society. Note bene Max Daniel of the National Police is prominent in the election program of the ChristenUnie, while he December 2020 stated that “the police do not advise on policy”. Less than a month later, he apparently thinks very differently.
The ChristenUnie wants to put an end to the normalization of drug use and to the export of drugs from the Netherlands, whereby the Netherlands has a leading position. The consequences of this have been made far too little insightful. Whether it concerns public health, environmental problems, the problems in rural areas, the costs of detection or the disastrous impact on neighborhoods, it is time to create a realistic picture of the consequences of drugs. Strong prevention against drug use is necessary, along with an active policy to prevent teenagers from turning to crime. Serious crime, which is increasingly manifesting itself above ground, must be tackled very hard. Combating official corruption that makes drug crime possible has an explicit priority. The approach also focuses on financial institutions, the transport sector and other sectors in which drug criminals are still too easy to operate.
The ChristenUnie does not want normalization. There will be targeted drug prevention and more attention for the social drawbacks of drug use. In schools, for specific target groups and for parents. The ChristenUnie is against the legalization of drugs, because it has a normalizing effect. Coffee shops are closed and disappear from the streets. There will also be higher penalties for serious drug crimes. Proportionally, the sentences for serious drug offenders are low compared to minor drug offences. There will be a smoking ban in public areas to reinforce the discouragement policy and to support local policy. The smoking ban will also be extended. The smoking ban will also apply to herbal smoking products. It is inconsistent that smoking these unhealthy products is still allowed in shisha lounges and coffee shops, while tobacco is prohibited. There will be a ban on laughing gas for recreational use. Laughing gas is not harmless but causes health damage, traffic accidents, social nuisance and is bad for the climate and the environment. Events will be drug-free. Possession and use of drugs are prohibited at festivals and other events. Municipalities are enabled to enforce the Opium Act. The ChristenUnie also wants to expand the ambitions of the National Prevention Agreement concluded in 2018, including to drug use.
The SGP wants the government to stand up for it a drug-free generation. To this end, the successful Icelandic prevention model is being introduced in every Dutch municipality. This approach is not based on a standard package of measures or campaigns. Locally, we look at what the biggest problems are and what options there are to tackle them. The entire local community is involved in this: young people and their parents, schools and social institutions. Fortunately, the negative consequences of the production and use of drugs are increasingly permeating the public and political debate. Thinking about drug use is changing. The cabinet is therefore starting an international campaign to adjust the reputation of the Netherlands as a marijuana mecca and to warn against a gigantic harmful impact of drug use on people and the environment. The tolerance policy is not only bad for drug users themselves, but society as a whole suffers from it negatively. We will therefore stop tolerating and enforce the law. Coffee shops are closing. We shouldn't get started on state weed. Legalizing drugs is a sham solution. The production and sale of drugs remains a criminal offense. The distinction between soft and hard drugs must disappear. Both are addictive and harmful to health. Recreational use of laughing gas will be prohibited. The SGP opts for a combination of preventive and repressive measures to counter the harmful consequences of undermining drug crime.
Forum for Democracy
Forum for Democracy is for modernization of drug policy. The current policy has failed: it costs the police an enormous amount of time and money, but is completely ineffective. It stands in the way of an effective approach to health problems, crime and nuisance. At the moment the supply of soft drugs is prohibited, but the sale is legal. This schizophrenic situation encourages organized crime and hinders effective control of the quality of cannabis. FVD wants to modernize drug policy by gradually legalizing soft drugs and by paying more attention to prevention and treatment of drug addiction. Abuse and disturbance of public order by users should be more severely punished.
According to D66 current drug policy falls short. More control, more drug laws, more repression and more tough language are not going to make the difference. In fact, they lead to a war on drugs that cannot be won. According to D66, the pursuit of a drug-free society (the wish of many conservative parties) is hopelessly naive. We have to fight hard against drug-related crime such as production and trade. But step one is a realistic drug policy, with a regulated market where possible. Information, prevention and drug testing policy is absolutely necessary here. We want to minimize the health risks of drugs and put the safety of society first. Preventing damage to the environment must also be given more attention. International drug treaties are squeezing to modernize drug policy. That is why it is important for the Netherlands to work together in a coalition of the willing.
Coffee shops have been in a strange dilemma for decades. Selling soft drugs is allowed, buying or growing soft drugs is not allowed. With this we hand over coffee shop owners to the criminal circuit. That can no longer be done. It is a good thing that municipalities are allowed to experiment with legal growers. It's time to take it a step further. All coffee shops in the Netherlands must be able to legally purchase, deliver and sell, whereby the soft drugs are tested for quality. People in a coffee shop need to know what they are smoking. Coffee shop owners must be able to go to the bank for a business account. This is essential for the legal chain. People with psychological or physical complaints can benefit greatly from drugs as medicine. For example, in addition to the known effects of cannabis, there are also promising studies into the treatment of PTSD with MDMA and the treatment of depression with magic mushrooms. D66 wants to focus more on more research into the medicinal and therapeutic effect of drugs. In order to fully utilize the opportunities that drugs can offer in our regular medicine, we will encourage international collaboration in this research. The negative medical effects of drugs also need to be better researched, such as the relationship between cannabis and psychoses. Risk groups (such as psychiatric patients and young people) must be protected with effective education.
The debate over which drugs should be legal and illegal is endless. The main thing for us is that we cannot put all drugs together. D66 wants to use research to map out when and in what way regulation for the various substances is possible and sensible and when not. D66 wants to set up a state commission that makes proposals to reform our drug policy. The basic principle is that the health risks of drugs are kept as low as possible and the health, safety and well-being of our society as a whole is safeguarded as well as possible. By analogy with the weed experiment, D66 argues in favor of making a local XTC experiment possible in which the production and sale thereof are regulated.
GroenLinks wants soft drugs and drugs such as XTC and magic mushrooms legalize. At the same time, we provide better information about drugs, as well as about smoking and alcohol. Through legalization we undermine the business model of organized crime, we limit victims due to bad drugs, we tackle incendiary cannabis plantations and we limit the environmental damage of waste dumping.
The PvdA wants to make adults aware of the risks of smoking, alcohol and drugs. We explicitly protect children up to the age of 18 against this. The PvdA wants to continue with the current experiments for the legalization of cannabis cultivation. There will be a closed cannabis chain that cannot be controlled by crime. Safety and health are at the forefront of drug policy. The absurdity of current policy is that the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis is fortunately regulated, but the use of all so-called hard drugs is not. That is why the PvdA no longer wants to see drug users as criminals, but rather put their health first. By removing drug use from the taboo sphere, we pursue more effective policy, provide better information and prevent fatal accidents. Organized crime is not the real criminals, but the users. These criminal (motorcycle) gangs that make our streets unsafe, undermine our governance, pollute our environment and harm our health with dangerous drugs.
The SP will grow and sell soft drugs for the Dutch market regulate and legalize. In this way we can combat drug crime and better control the safety of drugs. We discourage drug use, but we do not criminalize users. More research into the harm of different types of drugs is needed to determine whether the current banned drug list will need to be amended.
Denk wants a ban on the use of consumer nitrous oxide, regulate the tolerance policy around cannabis, combined with a firm discouragement policy and not legalize any form of hard drugs, such as XTC or LSD.
The Pirate Party wants one more rational and humane drug policy, by making the means safer and providing addicts with help instead of punishment. In this way we free up the capacity of the police and the judiciary to go after murderers, thieves and rapists. The fight against drugs does more damage than the drugs themselves. If we can deal well with one of the most harmful drugs, namely alcohol, then it must be possible with other substances as well.
It is now clear that the war on drugs does more harm than good. Drug bans have not led to a decline in production, trade and use. The prices of drugs do not rise due to scarcity. For years, this ban has resulted in more serious crime, more corruption, more serious health problems and environmental damage. In the south of the country, foreigners are no longer allowed to enter the coffee shops - so more street trade, crime and nuisance from drug tourists. There are many other examples. From the Manifesto Joint Regulation shows that 77% of the total investigative capacity is devoted to enforcing drug prohibitions. Police, judiciary, court and prison can all use their capacity better. This also applies to services that have to clean up waste that can be easily processed in a legal situation.
Several large-scale studies show that our drug policy has been overtaken by reality. The most harmful substances (alcohol, tobacco) are legally available at the supermarket, while we lock people up for substances that pose much less risk. Recent research by the RIVM clearly shows that our policy is based on misinformation and perverse interests and certainly not on science and facts.
Most international treaties regarding the preparation, processing and consumption of psychoactive substances are outdated and not based on scientific facts. Scientific evidence suggests, for example, that legalization of cannabis is less harmful to people and society than prohibition. International drug treaties are in violation of human rights treaties: drug prohibitions hinder the medical use of the drugs. In the Netherlands, many sick people run the risk of a criminal record or eviction, purely because their medicine is being contested. The Pirate Party proposes that the Netherlands work on changing the international conventions regarding psychoactive substances to a scientifically based approach. We want to establish a framework that facilitates the scientific approach, which should, among other things, exchange information and help finance research into psychoactive substances. That framework should advocate for legislation and regulation of cannabis in individual Member States to limit the black market. We want to conclude treaties with countries that have legalized cannabis to allow mutual trade.
The weed test is unnecessary. Coffee shops appear to belong to the vital sectors since they reopened after a 24-hour lockdown. International or European treaties are no obstacle to legalization of cannabis, given the examples abroad, including the US and Luxembourg.
The Pirate Party proposes that cannabis (hemp) be removed from the Opium Act with immediate effect. The plant is free to grow and use. There will be a transition year in which the current situation with coffee shops will be maintained. Breeding is no longer tackled unless safety is at stake. In that transition year, regulations will be prepared in collaboration with the cannabis sector / community for the trade and production of cannabis products for human consumption (Commodities Act). Companies in the cannabis sector are eager to succeed in quality improvement but are now held back by the law. Honest information or product testing is now prohibited. The sale of cannabis products containing THC (>1%) will eventually take place in specialist shops. This can be in the form of a (web) shop (retail) or as a catering facility (coffee shop). The Netherlands actively enters into trade agreements with countries that have a legal cannabis industry to promote international cannabis trade and global legalization. There will be a General Pardon for people convicted of hemp related cases (up to a certain limit) and criminal records will be deleted.
Products that are relatively harmless when used responsibly must be legalized. Sales can take place through specialist shops with trained staff, such as a smart shop. The Pirate Party is against a ban on nitrous oxide for the simple fact that drug bans do not help. Information and legal availability of other means will reduce the nuisance. While drug prohibitions are counterproductive, not all drugs need to be freely available as long as they are available in a safe way. For example, heroin is better supplied through a pharmacy. Possession and use are no longer penalized.
Bij1 chooses it make it legal cultivation, possession and sale of soft drugs, so that the government has more insight into the quality of drugs. Introduction is regulated. Monopolies on the cultivation of soft drugs by large companies are being fought. Hard drugs are legal and regulated by the government. For example, better advice can be given about the use of drugs and people with drug problems can be helped earlier.
Volt wants to work on it decriminalize in a controlled manner or legalize drugs. The Portuguese model has shown that the war on drugs that is being waged all over the world cannot be won. That is why Volt wants to work towards a different system, in which, on the basis of thorough research, we own it, allow the trade and production of certain drugs under certain conditions. This has two major advantages. The pressure on enforcement is decreasing and we as a society can better invest in prevention and information. In addition, legalization does not lead to more drug use, but it does ensure better control of use.
If drug policy is important to you, then this overview informs you of the plans of most of the political parties that will soon participate in the national elections. As the overview shows, some parties argue for more repression and higher punishments. Other parties see advantages in legalizing certain drugs and good information. The differences between them are large and there is hardly any consensus.
That is why I would advise the new House of Representatives to use the coming period to consider, based on scientific research and in consultation with relevant organizations, experts and users, a new drug policy that poses the least danger to public health, the costs of curbs drug enforcement and does justice to people's freedom of choice. Do you want that too? Then sign the petition https://www.startbeterdrugsbeleid.nl/.