Source: De Pers (NL)
26 november 2007
Translation: Mario Lap
The current fight against drugs costs much too
much money and has no impact whatsoever, say
Judge and prominent professor of criminal law
Theo de Roos and former Amsterdam chief of police Eric Nordholt (photo).
Nobody within the justice system is glad that
they have to deal with this mess, says de Roos,
who is professor of criminal law, solicitor and judge.
That applies to police chief commissioners, as
well as colleague judges. They are confronted
with yet another drug case, yet another addict. I
think that the majority wants another approach.
De Roos pleads for legalization or regulation of drugs.
Eric Nordholt, former Chief-Commissioner the
Amsterdam police force agrees with him. In the
forty years which I have served at the police
force, the problem has become only more terrible.
Everyone within the police force and judicial
authorities knows that they have lost the fight.
It is a lunatic situation, and there is no solution like this.
A commission of the United Nations proclaimed in
1998, that drug production – and use – in ten
years time would be considerably surpressed. A
report published by the European Union last
Friday reveals that the results are disastrous.
There are more drug deaths and cocaine users then
ever and a record number of cannabis smokers.
I do not deny that drugs can be dangerous, says
De Roos, but according to me the treatment is now
way more terrible than the disease. The
social costs of policing and prosecution are
immense, and the import of drugs continues
undiminished. Then you must reflect seriously: do
we do have continue anyway, with this hard
treatment? This way criminal organizations are
getting richer and richer in the easiest possible
way: the really big boys are almost never caught.
Hard drugs to be obtained in pharmacy
For dozens of years now governments worldwide
spend hundreds of billions on the suppression of
drugs – without any result. It is time for
another approach, according to more and more experts.
It is 2017 and you want a little coke. You walk
to the shopping center, walk into the local
branch of the government company Holland
Drugs Ltd, and upon showing your passport it is
possible to get a couple lines of cocaine. Do you
want some xtc, grass or mushrooms on second thought: no problem.
Improbable? Perhaps. But according to the Drug
Policy Foundation – a drugs think tank
consisting of politicians, scientists and other
prominent people – a chain of government shops is
the best way to control drugs.
It is best compared with the casinos, regulated,
owned and controlled by the government, says
Raimond Dufour, President of the Foundation.
The government is against gambling, but has
started casinos in order to be able to control
gambling. Thus drugs also must be fought:
everyone wanting to use from time to time can do
as he pleases, and when it gets out of hand, you
get a visit by someone asking whether everything is still okay.
More and more national and international
specialists plead for radical change of the
worldwide policy on drugs, which is now aimed on
the total destruction of drug production and a hard treatment of users.
That war on drugs can never be won, state the
proponents of legalization. In the previous
decades governments worldwide spent thousands of
billions of dollars fighting drugs – without
results. The number of drug consumers is still
rising, the amount of produced drugs also, and
there is an unprecedented quantity of money
circulating in it. After the oil market the drug
market is meanwhile the largest in the world.
From figures of the Dutch national drug monitor
it becomes clear that contraveners of the Opium
Act in the Netherlands account for 16 per cent of
all prison sentences. They account for more than
one quarter of the total spent prison time, but
in reality drug crime is even much higher.
A drug addict who steals regularly, does so in
order to be able to pay for his drugs, but he is
entered into the books as a perfectly ordinary
robber. How large the proportion of drugs related
crime really is, remains unclear. Experts value
that at least half of all condemnations in the
Netherlands are related to narcotic substances.
Peter Paul Lampe – then president of the criminal
court in Maastricht – already pleaded in 2004,
for a smoother policy on drugs. îThe fight
against drugs brings our complete criminal and
sentencing system down. For many other affairs ,
which we necessarily must prosecute, no time is
left. This includes heavy offences and crimes. So
lets stop, legalize it now. I think that we must
recognize that drugs, exactly like alcohol, can
not be fought with criminal law.
Lampe is followed and cited more and more. A
Amsterdam police officer who does not wants his
name revealed in the newspaper, tells us how
discouraged he gets from the endless problem
around dealers and junkies. If you are willing to
so you can spend the entire day on it. You fine
them one day and know that the day after they
will be there again. Utterly demotivating.
According to the police union ACP a large part of
the police officers think along this line. The
police knows that this method does not provides
for any solution, says Gerrit van der Kamp,
President of the police union ACP. It costs an
enormous amount of time, a lot of money, and what
does it produce? It is mopping with the tap wide open.
Theo de Roos, professor of criminal law, lawyer
and judge, states that the majority of judges and
head commissioners meanwhile support legalization
or control of the drug market is. The treatment
is way more terrible than the disease.
Because not the drugs themselves produce the
largest problems, it is prohibition itself. Drug
deaths are caused because the quality of narcotic
substances cannot be checked in an illegal market.
Drug addicts must steal a fortune in order to be
able to pay for the towering prices of their
drugs – a price which would be a lot of lower if
production and transport would be legal. In the
meantime organized crime profits optimally.
Former ñ chief commissioner Eric Nordholt: That
drug money falls into the hands of criminals, who
than can deal with it as they please. In fact in
this way we are creating and facilitating a large
part of the criminal organizations ourselves.
Nevertheless a plea for legalization of all types
drugs is still a large taboo. Professor de Roos:
*Probably a large scandal is required for this
subject to be discussed realistically. A large
mortality under drug addicts for example, who
digest uncontrolled drugs and as a result, die.
Patience is required, but I am convinced: within
thirty, forty, fifty years we have another policy on drugs.”