Most of the Dutch towns and cities with cafes that openly sell cannabis under licence are happy with the current policy of tolerating soft drugs and even want the government to regulate the production and supply, according to two surveys published on Wednesday.
This, say the councils, would put an end to the current anomaly in the system which turns an official blind eye to the sale and consumption of cannabis but bans the large-scale cultivation of marijuana plants and the wholesale trade.
One survey was carried out by the civil service magazine Binnenlands Bestuur and the other by the NRC newspaper.
Both surveys asked the mayors of towns with cannabis cafes, known as coffee shops, for their views on the country’s policy of tolerating soft drugs sales. The outcome is in marked contrast to calls at a national level for a more restrictive policy by the national government.
In total, coffee shops were identified in 109 different local authority areas and eighty-eight mayors took part in the magazine’s telephone survey. Of these 54 said they were in favour of legalising the entire soft drug supply chain including the mayors of Amsterdam, Maastricht, Haarlem and Hilversum.
Another 25 said were satisfied with the existing situation and nine said they would like coffee shops to be banned altogether.
Few want a ban
Of the 70 or so local councils that responded to the NRC questionnaire, over 75% said they want the national government to regulate the supply of cannabis to coffee shops and 14 want them closed down.
The number of cafes where cannabis is sold fell from 729 in 2005 to 702 last year, according to new statistics for the justice ministry published on Thursday. Nine years ago there were 846 so-called coffee shops nationwide.
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