Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday, March 21: Seminar with Diederik Boomsma, Christian Democratic Appeal Party

Our last day in Amsterdam!  We were off to City Hall to get the current ruling party's official take on the current drug policy. Though national politics in the Netherlands may change substantially after the June elections, the CDA (a center-right party) has been the strongest party in the country for some years now, and their official views will likely matter in any coalition government to follow. Diederik is a CDA member of the Amsterdam City council, and explained that the party's official stance toward the coffeeshops is rather disapproving. The party believes that drug use is nearly always detrimental, and that more lenient policies are only encouragin more use. For instance, he pointed to an uptick in cannabis use in the early years of the coffeeshop era (though numbers have been stable generally, and among youth, for the last several years). He drew sharp distinctions between use of alcohol, which he called a more socially accepted drug and one that can people together, and illicit drugs, which he said tended to make people more socially isolated.

The compromise struck by the current coalition between the CDA and the Social Democrats has, in fact, meant there's been little movement - no greater liberalisation of policies (eg decriminalising coffeeshops' purchasing of cannabis to sell), but on the other hand no systematic closing of coffeeshops, or prosecuting posession of small amounts for personal use.

Photos were taken, but technical difficulties have prevented them from being uploaded from a camera that appears to have given up the ghost.

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