Dutch Government Plans to Restrict Coffeeshops, End Ecstasy Harm Reduction 7/19/02

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


Fallout from June's elections in Holland, where the center-right Christian Democrats, the free market VVD, and the wildcard Pim Fortuyn List swept to power nine days after Fortuyn fell victim to an assassin's bullet, is beginning to spread toward Holland's famous coffeeshops and its thriving club scene. The coffeeshops, where cannabis products are sold and consumed under license as authorities turn a largely blind eye, have been a staple of the Dutch approach to soft drugs under consecutive governments since 1976. The incoming government, however, has announced moves to impose new restrictions on the establishments long popular with Dutch and foreign travelers alike. It is also moving to end testing of ecstasy tablets, a well-established harm reduction practice, at Dutch night clubs.

According to the center-right coalition's "policy summary," released last week, the new government plans to tighten restrictions and enforce regulations on coffee shops more stringently than the outgoing center-left government of Wim Kok. "The criteria governing coffeeshops will be enforced more strictly, and coffeeshops will no longer be tolerated in the vicinity of schools and national borders," said the policy summary.

The move is in part a sop to the governments of neighboring countries, particularly France, which have protested the ease with which their nationals could avail themselves of cannabis in Holland. But it also reflects a more thoroughgoing aversion to liberal drug policies in the new government.

The incoming government will also end the ecstasy "testing station" program introduced by Dutch authorities last year, the policy summary said. The "testing stations" were designed to prevent people from getting drugs laced with toxic substances and were part of a broader harm reduction approach to ecstasy by Dutch authorities, which also included regulations designed to force clubs to provide free water and "cooling rooms" for ecstasy users.

The tightening of Holland's liberal drug policies has been a prominent theme for Christian Democrat leader Jan Peter Balkenende, who will most probably be the new prime minister, but it is only one of a bundle of rightist planks laid out by the new government. Balkenende is also an opponent of euthanasia, which became legal earlier this year, but the Dutch right rode to power largely on the back of sympathy for the slain Fortuyn, who articulated apparently widespread Dutch fears of being swamped by a tide of immigrants (but who ironically favored liberalization of drug laws -- a fact the surviving members of Pim's list prefer to ignore).

It was immigration that largely drove the election results, and much of the policy summary is devoted to anti-immigrant moves. Some of the language is breathtaking in the frankness of its racism and dispiriting in what it says about the current state of Dutch and, more broadly, European politics. Among other anti-immigrant moves, the policy summary blandly notes, the Dutch government plans to "make it more difficult for members of ethnic minorities to bring a partner from their home country to the Netherlands."

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #246, 7/19/02 Editorial: Times Change | Dutch Government Plans to Restrict Coffeeshops, End Ecstasy Harm Reduction | Nevada Marijuana Amendment Draws Flack, Praise | Canadian Justice Minister Floats Decrim Trial Balloon, Takes Flack from All Sides | Barcelona Conference Hears Link Between AIDS and Injection Drug Use -- Clinton Regrets Not Lifting Ban, Bush to Keep It | New York Marijuana Reform Party in Petition Drive to Win Ballot Status | "We're Your Good Neighbors. We Smoke Pot" -- Jeff and Tracy One Year Later | Alert: DEA Moves to Schedule 2C-T-7 | Newsbrief: Cow Dung Sniffers Have Malaysian Authorities Confounded | Newsbrief: Baltimore Homicides Continue, More Juveniles Dying Than Before | Newsbrief: Noelle Bush Imprisoned | Media Scan: Time Magazine on The Philippines, Drug Testing Protest Video Highlights | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]