Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema has told the Financieele Dagblad in an interview that the sale of cocaine and other drugs should be decriminalized and regulated, to squeeze out organised crime.
The international struggle to defeat the drugs trade – the so-called war on drugs – is both “perverse and counterproductive”, Halsema told the paper ahead of a one-day conference on drug-related crime in the capital.
The time has come, she said, to “regulate and manage” rather than try to end the trade. “We have handed the market to unscrupulous criminals. They earn billions. And in the meantime, the war on drugs is disrupting entire countries, causing countless victims and strengthening the criminal business model.”
Earlier this month Halsema gave another exclusive interview to the Guardian newspaper, in which she said the Netherlands threatened to become a narco state.
“Amsterdam, as an international financial hub, now serves as a marketplace where the demand for drugs is being determined, and negotiations and payments are being made from all over the world,” the mayor wrote. “If this continues… our economy will be inundated with criminal money and violence will reach an all-time high.”
Halsema told the FD she did not take a moral position on the widespread use of recreational drugs in the capital, where “menus” circulate and users can order home deliveries.
“The widespread use of drugs is integrated into society,” she said. “The market is enormous. But there are risks to public health and then you should not leave the market to criminals.” Instead, she said, there should be a “pragmatic approach” to the problem.
“Abusing drugs can have serious consequences,” she said. “But often the risks are exaggerated. Cocaine, for example, is less harmful than alcohol. People make their own choices.”
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