After the cowardly assassination attempt on Peter R. de Vries, the debate about drug policy has erupted in full force. Peter R. de Vries was a proponent of legalizing drugs. This is the only way to fight crime effectively, he said, because that would deprive criminals of their revenue model.
The chairman of the Dutch Police Association, Jan Struijs, acknowledges that, despite all efforts, the police cannot do much in the fight against drug criminals. He pleaded in News hour for looking at drug release, combined with good health care and prevention. Other media, such as the AD and the NRC doubt the current, repressive approach and note that the war on drugs cannot be won in the long term.
I agree with this. It is time for a radically different approach. The revenue model of drug criminals cannot be tackled with stricter sentences, more bans and higher fines, because that would achieve the exact opposite. The final result of the war on drugs is that the most violent criminals reach the top, according to criminologist Tom Decorte.
The revenue model of drug criminals can best be tackled by legalizing, regulating and controlling the production, distribution and sale of illegal drugs, by properly informing people about the risks associated with the use of certain drugs and by taxing to finance information and prevention. Just like with online gambling now. In June 2021, Minister of VWS, Tamara Van Ark (VVD), said the following about this:
“The idea is that when something happens, you regulate it, you can monitor it, you can set rules for it, and you can make sure that something good happens with the proceeds.” Why does this approach apply to one (just as addictive, just as destructive and just as criminogenic) file, but not to another?
Also a lot mayors believe that the revenue model of drug criminals should be tackled. The first step is the legalization and regulation of the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis. The mayors will soon be publishing a manifesto. In 2020, scientists already proposed to take a different approach, with the manifest for a realistic drug policy. That manifesto was supported by D66 and by many prominent Dutch people, including Peter R. de Vries.
House of Representatives
You would think that MPs responsible for drug policy closely follow the social discussion about drug policy and that they are prepared to think about the best approach. But on the last day before the summer recess, a large majority of the House of Representatives voted in favor of a motion of the CDA and the Christian Union calling on the cabinet to ban both laughing gas and New Psychoactive Substances, to send the amendments to the Opium Act to the House at the beginning of September and to make extra money structurally available for the implementation and enforcement of both proposals. It is no coincidence that the two ministers responsible for drug policy are the CDA (Grapperhaus) and the ChristenUnie (Blokhuis).
A majority of the House therefore wants the outgoing cabinet to make haste with the ban on nitrous oxide and the ban on designer drugs. How in God's name is that possible, given the current social discussion about drug policy and all the signs that prohibition will only worsen drug crime? The enforcement of illegal substances is already a problem. You cannot solve this by banning more substances, because then you have to enforce even more. By legalizing drugs you are making the right thing capacity released from the police for other wrongdoing.
In fact, Mr DR Ugsdealer was so pleased with the recent ban on 3-MMC that he public thank you letter wrote to the members of the House of Representatives, in which he urges the MPs to ban even more drugs. With each ban, his income increases, because a ban does not affect the business model of drug criminals, it only makes them richer.
Members of parliament now seem to be addicted to bans themselves. They don't do it reluctantly, they enjoy it, they do it because it feels right. Take a look at the twitter feed of the MPs of the CDA and the ChristenUnie. They triumphantly announce the latest ban! The only problem, as with all addictions, is that it feels good until the effect wears off. And then you have to score again. Another shot! Another ban! What a joy!
I wish Anne Kuik and Mirjam Bikker a lot of strength in recognizing and acknowledging their addiction. Recognition opens the way to seeking help. Fortunately, the Netherlands has excellent institutions for addiction treatment where the representatives of the people can go, institutions that, incidentally, also support the legalization and regulation of drugs.