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Amsterdam's Drug Police Demand Right To Keep On Smoking Cannabis

Herb Fellow

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Police in Rotterdam seize marijuana plants. Although possession of small amounts is tolerated, cultivation is illegal.

When it comes to turning a blind eye to cannabis use in Europe's most tolerant city, police in Amsterdam are demanding the right to practise what they preach. Officers in the capital of the Netherlands are in open revolt against a new code of behaviour that orders them to stop taking drugs in their free time.

The new rules, due to come in on January 1, have upset officers who patrol the city's infamous coffee shops, where cannabis is smoked openly by locals and millions of tourists attracted by Amsterdam's relaxed atmosphere.

It has been their duty for years to operate a policy of nonenforcement over the coffee shop culture. Now the police union will back its members in defying the cannabis ban. The union has vowed to bring a test case in court against the first officer to fall foul of the new rules, claiming that they amount to an unjustified intrusion into personal life.

"Police should not be put in pigeonholes in which they can no longer be themselves," said Hans van Duijn, the chairman of the Nederlandse Politie Bond, the police union. "If you allow people in the country to smoke [cannabis], you would be a hypocrite to say to the police officers, 'You are not allowed to do that'.

"It is illegal by law but we allow it for everybody else just to use it in small amounts for themselves. There must be scope for using soft drugs."

The code, however, is only the latest example of a backlash against years of Dutch tolerance that have given Amsterdam a seedy reputation that the city's authorities are keen to reverse. This month Job Cohen, the Mayor, unveiled plans to convert scores of Amsterdam's notorious prostitutes' windows into fashion displays in an attempt to clean up parts of the red-light zone around some of the more attractive streets and canals. He has also led intense efforts to close coffee shops and so-called smart shops, which sell harder drugs such as magic mushrooms.

Supplying and possessing cannabis remains illegal in the Netherlands and police have always been banned from drinking or taking drugs on duty. But the city force now wants all officers to set a better example.

"Hitherto, it was only clear that you could not appear at your work drunk or stoned," a police spokesman said. "We are now saying: You are also seen as a police officer when off-duty." The use of alcohol is permitted when off-duty but officers should not be seen "drunkenly babbling on the street" in their free time, the spokesman said.

The code states that officers must behave as "model citizens". The key words they must live by are "respect, transparency, responsibility, involvement, trustworthiness, justice and balance".

Mr van Duijn remained defiant. "If there is one police officer who has been smoking a soft drug in private and they catch him, we will go to court to ask to be treated as everybody else."

Source: The Times
Copyright: 2007 The Times
Contact: David Charter
Website: Amsterdam's drug police demand right to keep on smoking cannabis - Times Online


New Member
Thats not a very good way to keep your officers happy.I bet if they do what they say they are going to,they will have trouble finding officers.
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