CDA snubs mayors on marijuana regulation
more than 100 party front-runners of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) have spoken out against the marijuana regulation. Leading members for election to the municipality council reacted to a manifesto, initiated by PvdA mayors Paul Depla (Heerlen) and Rob van Gijzel (Eindhoven), that argues for a regulated marijuana cultivation scheme. The CDA front-runners are calling it "a completely distorted signal." They do not believe soft drugs to be an appropriate government project. "We have to get rid of the romanticism of the joint" CDA front-runners insist. According to them, Dutch students light up twice as many spliffs as their European age-mates. The CDA members urge a further cutback of coffeeshops and an intensive tackling of illegal marijuana farms. According to mayor Van Gijzel, the local leaders are very worried about "the health hazards of illegally grown weed, the safety aspects - especially fire as a result of illegal electricity supplies - and the enormous police input necessary for the controlling of criminality." They are also worried about "the quickly growing criminal circuit as a result of the big financial gains that go with it." The establishers of the manifesto therefore urge minister Ivo Opstelten (Security and Justice) to stand for experimentation with regulated marijuana farming. Opstelten isn't convinced. Regulating marijuana cultivation doesn't solve anything, according to him. He says that 80 percent of Dutch-grown weed is exported. This means that regulation will only remove a fraction of criminal production. Opstelten also repeated that regulation is in opposition with international treaties. Uruguay and several states in America have legalized marijuana cultivation, but he doesn't see that as an argument to "intentionally violate" the UN treaties. The minister is still with a majority of Parliament support on this issue. The National Police foresees "extreme violence" in the future of legal marijuana farms at the hands of criminals, and therefore discourages it as well. Ruud Bik, deputy chief constable, doesn't believe regulation will remove criminality either. He insists violence such as abuse and execution go hand in had with marijuana cultivation, regulated or not, and envisages 24-hour police protection around legal farms to combat security issues. Mayor Depla is "baffled" by Bik's reasoning. "We want to take marijuana cultivation out of the criminals' hands with legal farms. But out of fear of reproach we do nothing, and leave marijuana cultivation in the hands of criminals. That is an upside-down world."