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Dutch moving towards legalizing soft drugs

Will the Netherlands set a worldwide trend for cannabis policies?

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Dutch moving towards legalizing soft drugs

Postby Virgil » Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:13 am

This is the first four paragraphs at http://tinyurl.com/akqc5 It is also up at this comment at CannabisNews.com- http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread21276.shtml#5

Turn a Blind Eye or Make it Legal? The Dutch Soft Drugs Dilemma

By Rutger van Santen, 7 November 2005

The legalisation of soft drugs in the Netherlands is gradually coming closer. A majority in the Dutch parliament first wants to experiment with regulating the cultivation of marijuana, much to the dissatisfaction of Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner, who squarely opposes their legalisation.

The contemporary Dutch policy with regard to soft drugs fits seamlessly into an old Dutch tradition that today is referred to with the Dutch verb ‘gedogen.’ This word, which finds its English equivalent in the expression ‘turning a blind eye’, means that something is tolerated although officially it is prohibited or otherwise considered undesirable. This toleration is usually for the sake of maintaining the peace.

Rules, regulations, tolerance

Historians trace the Dutch ‘gedoog’ culture of turning a blind eye back to the eve of the 17th century, the Golden Age when the Netherlands was a safe haven for all kinds of religious communities and sects that together constituted the most important seafaring trade nation in the world. The country, of course, had rules and regulations but the time and energy it would have cost to maintain them were rather spent on making money and in other ways to advance the individual and the nation. Thus a ‘live and let live’ mentality developed as regards not being too strict about the law. Catholicism was prohibited, but as long as Catholics built their churches in inconspicuous places they were left in peace. Alcohol was also forbidden, but it tasted good and also brought in considerable tax revenues. So people drunk as ever before and after.

Buying and selling

The present situation with regard to soft drugs is similar. According to Dutch law, it is legal to buy or sell small quantities of hashish or marijuana in the world famous ‘coffee shops’. But, at the same time, it remains officially prohibited for the managers of these coffee shops to purchase their merchandise in large quantities. For years, however, the authorities turned a blind eye and left them to do their business.
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