The official Dutch approach to soft drugs is bankrupt and the government does not have the guts to recognise the fact, Maastricht’s new mayor told a television programme on Monday night.
Annemarie Penn-te Strake told Nieuwsuur that 40 years of separating soft and hard drugs had not produced the desired effect. Soft drugs have not remained a separate, non-profit market to hard drugs, she said.
‘I can only say that the current policy of turning a blind eye has failed,’ the mayor, who took over in Maastricht in July, told the programme.
Penn-te Strake said nothing would change in this situation as long as it remains illegal to grow marijuana.
The ban on cultivation means there is a grey area between the official policy of turning a blind eye towards possessing small amounts of marijuana and the supply to cannabis cafes, known as coffee shops.
‘We need to find a new set-up,’ the mayor said. ‘This could be in the form of cannabis clubs, where people grow good quality marijuana for their own, recreational use.’
Mayors from across the country have called on the government to take action to sanction some form of legalised production but former justice minister Ivo Opstelten refused to take any action.
In addition, he introduced new legislation making it a crime to help people grow marijuana in the first place.
His replacement, Ard van der Steur has also said ‘cannabis social clubs’ are not permitted under both national and international law.
Penn suggests the Netherlands use its chairmanship of the EU next year to try to bring about change.