21 September 2022
Funk rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers and ska band the Specials performed in the Netherlands in June.
During their tours, the band members were happy to stay in Amsterdam, where mind-altering drugs are available on every street corner. The Peppers singer explained his fondness for our country, “You have a high standard of living”, emphasising the word ‘high’. The Specials frontman smoked one joint after another on stage. “Any questions?”, he asked the audience. It made me laugh. Unfortunately, the free-spirited atmosphere that we like to boast of also has serious drawbacks. The Netherlands is now considered a so-called narco-state. Justice Minister Yesilgoz travelled to Italy last month to learn how they tackle the Mafia there.
In recent decades, I have witnessed the changes in how so-called drug cases are handled in civil courts. I am referring to rented residential and business premises that are used as a base for dealing in soft and hard drugs. Initially, the cultivation of hemp in particular was considered relatively harmless. Only when housing corporations pointed out the million-dollar damage they suffered as a result of fires and leakages did the courts’ view change. Increasingly, leases were terminated if commercial quantities of drugs were found. Nevertheless, it’s incompatible. The government’s ‘backdoor policy’, whereby the use of drugs and the sale of soft drugs are permitted, but their production and purchase are not. A typical polder approach.
In the meantime, one occasionally sees changes in the administration of justice where the clock seems to have been turned back twenty years. A Court of Appeal prohibited the termination of a tenancy agreement at the end of 2021, in part because a tenant had said in her defence that she ‘had to look after a small child alone who has nowhere else to go, that she suffers from depression and has a difficult relationship with her ex-partner’. In 2020, another Court of Appeal found that the presence in a rented flat of 234 pony packs of cocaine, 71 grams of hashish, 269 grams of hemp and a bag of pills was no reason to terminate the tenancy agreement with the occupant.
I am afraid that in the absence of a consistent government policy and unambiguous jurisdiction, we will remain a narco-state. But one with ‘a high standard of living’.
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This column was written for Den Haag Centraal. Raymond de Mooij writes a monthly column about what he experiences in his practice.
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