Crack down on cannabis

A number of today’s papers cover a leaked official report in which sweeping changes to the famously permissive Dutch cannabis policy are recommended. De Volkskrant says the document also pushes for the age at which alcohol can be bought to be raised from 16 to 18. The authors of the report believe the authorities should give out a strong message that alcohol and drug use by people under 18 “is not normal” and is highly dangerous.

Licensed outlets called ‘coffeeshops’ are at present allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis products. However, producing the soft drugs is not legal and coffeeshops must rely on criminals for their supplies. Foreigners crossing the Dutch border to stock up on the soft drugs have caused increasing trouble over the last few years. Both problems are highlighted in the report which also indicates, on the other hand, that 30 years of permissive policy towards soft drugs has had a positive effect on public health.

The report recommends that coffeeshops should be limited in scale and only allowed to supply local cannabis users. It also wants the institution of a drugs authority which would follow developments in the market and come down hard on people abusing the system. reports there have been suggestions that the distinction between cannabis and ‘hard’ drugs, such as cocaine and ecstasy, is outdated because of the strength of modern cannabis products.