Almost 40 Dutch mayors, mainly from the south of the Netherlands, have signed a manifesto calling on the government to legalise soft drugs as part of a campaign to tackle organized crime and the infiltration of legitimate companies and organisations by drugs criminals.
The issue must have a prominent place in the next cabinet’s plans, the mayors say. ‘By removing the criminals’ earnings model, vulnerable citizens can be protected,’ the manifesto states.
‘Marijuana is the perfect way to step towards big money,’ the manifesto goes on. ‘You can set up a medium-sized plantation with a few hundred euros and earn a couple of thousand every 10 weeks. Those earnings can then be ploughed back into more plantations, bigger plantations or in the import and production of hard drugs, and the really big cash.’
According to the Parool, Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema told city councillors during Thursday’s meeting that she supported the manifesto as well. Asked by D66 councillor Rob Hofland if she backed the mayors, Halsema said ‘we are always ready to support and offer help,’ the Parool reported.
The paper says it is the first time the capital’s mayor has been so clearly in favour of legalizing cannabis. Halsema has said in the past that the city’s weed sector is difficult to regulate because of the number of tourists, who account for around a third of national cannabis sales.
The mayor is currently working on introducing a tourist ban in the city’s 166 cannabis cafes or coffee shops. Non-residents are excluded from coffee shops in the rest of the country but Amsterdam was granted an exception to the rule when it was introduced.
The government has sanctioned experiments with regulated marijuana production in 10 cities, but that process is not due to start until next year. Tilburg and Breda are among the cities which will take part in the trials and both their mayors have signed the manifesto.
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