Dutch prosecutors recently acquired the possibility of by-passing courts for minor offences if they can come to an agreement with suspects about a fine.
Placing the public prosecutor on the seat of the judge: what could possibly go wrong?
Two weeks ago at the Lowlands festival, the prosecutor wasn’t too eager to explain to suspects what exactly the consequences of their choices were, Vice reports. The 119 visitors out of 50,000 who had been charged with possession of recreational substances were not always told that agreeing to the so-called ‘strafbeschikking’ (‘declaration of punishment’) would get them a criminal record, nor what the consequences of a criminal record would be.
Vice asked lawyers Juriaan de Vries and Christian Flokstra what festival goers should do if a public prosecutor offers them an agreement. “Always ask for a lawyer!”
And of course that is a problem if your options are to pay a small fine on the spot (now with free criminal record!) or to go to jail for a night while a lawyers are being fetched from their weekend fishing trips and miss out on the festival. It seems the prosecutor knew exactly what they were doing. In the Netherlands a criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, effectively shutting off certain career paths.
The public prosecutor’s office responded (PDF) by saying they didn’t understand what all the hubbub was about—in their view the suspects retained plenty of rights and had even had some of those rights explained to them.
A 40-year-old man from Knegsel, Noord-Brabant is going to jail for five years for having built an underground drug lab. After spotting a manhole on his property, the police found a fully equipped drug lab with traces of MDMA and speed. Guns were also found on his property, and since the man had a prior conviction for growing weed and possession of weapons, he was given five years.
During the hearing, the man claimed that his drug lab was a ‘bomb shelter’ and a surprise gift for his girlfriend. He also claimed that he had found all the equipment in the woods and brought it home. The drugs found in his lab were from men who told him to hold it or they would kill him. And if you think the man’s lies couldn’t get any more pathetic, he also claimed that the entire operation was to develop a new medicine against Parkinson’s disease.
Out of 42 European cities in 21 countries, three Dutch cities show up in the top 10 for drug use, according to the European Drug Report 2014 of the EMCDDA.
The trio of Eindhoven, Utrecht and Amsterdam can be described as the ‘MDMA capital cities of Europe’, respectively in positions 1, 2 and 3. Eindhoven is off the charts as far as speed is concerned, probably because it is often dumped directly into the sewers by makers.
The number one cannabis smoking wonderland isn’t Amsterdam, although Amsterdam is number two. Number one is Novi Sad in Serbia. Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Utrecht are numbers two, seven and thirteen for cocaine use.
The youth wing of the Democrats 66 (aka D66) has announced plans to hand out free ecstasy (XTC) pills in some big cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht over the next two weeks. The goal is to demonstrate that it is better to take XTC freely, as in, still illegal but turning a blind eye to it like with marijuana and other ‘soft drugs’ than ingest bad quality pills. Since XTC often needs to be tested, some of us are thinking, ‘well just don’t use it then’, but the reality is people will continue to do so and some will die.
With King’s Day around the corner and festival season about to kick off, D66 wants to make drug use safer and have it regulated rather than remain illegal and hazardous even deadly for people’s health. Since everything has a price, these free pills will be covered by excise taxes, or duties.
If anyone out there gets pills from D66, we’d love to know because that’s a bold move. I bet some people are going to try it for the first time or sell them.
UPDATE: Reading more sources, the pills are fake ones, but D66 first reported as if they were real.
The work of Dutch artist Diddo, Ecce Animal, is purported to be made from “street sourced” cocaine and gelatin. The artist also describes the laboratory process used to determine the purity of the product and create the work.
Apparently the cocaine was somewhere between 15% and 20% pure, the rest of the white powder consisting of “Phenacetin, Caffeine, Paracetamol and a relative large percentage of sugars”. We’ll never know for sure, as the work was commissioned and the artist claims to have signed an NDA, but that hasn’t stopped publications like The Independent, Huffington Post and Vice writing about the sculpture.
Last week during a major traffic check on a motorway in Emmen near the German border 191,000 euro was found in the roof of a car. A 33-year-old male driver whose car reeked of marijuana was pulled over and searched by a drug sniffing dog. The traffic check was a joint operation of the Dutch cops, German cops, royal marshals, tax office and border guards.
Instead of finding what could have been marijuana, the Dutch cops found 191,000 euros stashed in the roof of the guy’s car. It was later confirmed that the man had been suspected of money laundering. He’s already walking around free, but he’s still a suspect.
All I can say is if you’re going to try not to attract attention to yourself for money laundering and then hide the money in your car, smoking dope in your car is akin to having a sign on the side of it that says “hi, the money is in here, please pull me over”.
According to Dutch television show ‘Spuiten en Slikken’, which talks candidly about drugs with young adults, the picturesque fishing village of Volendam uses more drugs per capita than cities like Milan, Paris and London. The sewer water, which was tested by the KWR Watercycle Research Institute, came up with the equivalent of one line of cocaine per 40 inhabitants. With XTC, Volendam takes the No. 3 spot in Europe, just behind the cities of Amsterdam and Eindhoven.
In July we already told you that Amsterdam had sewers full of hard drugs, but Volendam only has 22,000 inhabitants, although it attracts a lot of weekend drug users. Volendam is not as much the butt of jokes as the town of Urk, where kids drink and snort their religion-induced boredom away, but is home to many Dutch music artists that people either love or find annoying, making this discovery an excuse to make fun of Volendam.
Test the sewer waters in a city and scientists will tell you about your city, a bit like reading tea leaves, but a lot more accurate. Apparently, Amsterdam’s sewer water is full of cocaine and XTC, as scientists tested the water of 19 European cities. There is also a lot of cannabis floating around, but come weekend, ‘coke’ and XTC take over as the dominant hard drugs of choice, both also very popular in Antwerp, Belgium. In Scandinavian cities they’re more into speed.
Measuring sewage samples is said to be produce more reliable data about drug use than surveys, where people often provide sociably acceptable answers.
“What about countries like Amsterdam?” An American sheriff who obviously failed geography claims he was “crossing over bodies lying in the street” when he visited Amsterdam. I bet he was saying that to entertain the posse behind him. Tip: the War on Drugs is a complete wash. Both sides kinda come off silly in this video, although the sheriff takes the space cake.
Run by American Kevin McKernan, with a laboratory in Amsterdam, the Mecca of cannabis, the company Medicinal Genomics has deciphered the genetic identity of cannabis, DNA sequence and all.
Apparently, Cannabis sativa“has 84 other compounds that could fight pain or possibly even shrink tumors. But anti-marijuana laws make it difficult for scientists to breed and study the plant in most countries. That’s one reason he decided to publish his data for free on Amazon’s EC2, a public data cloud.”
The idea is of course to produce all kinds of ‘good’ products without the nasty side effects of getting high. And then you can’t grow plants just anywhere to conduct experiments in many countries, and so the Netherlands is quite convenient sometimes.
Dutch Health Minister Edith Schippers has decided to pull the plug on a breast cancer drug which can extend the lives of women who have an advanced form of the disease. Bottom line: the minister believes it’s expensive and has no added value, which is pretty much code for ‘they’ll die anyway, just later on’. Most people who get cancer do die of it, sadly, so the logic is elusive at best.
Although this pill-based chemotherapy treatment (read the data) prolongs life, stops the spread of cancer to the brain, is approved in nearly all EU countries and is registered with the European pharmaceutical authority EMA, the Minister is going ahead with her plans, and doctors are livid.
The Netherlands has the fourth highest rate of breast cancer in the world. By cutting this funding, it also shows it isn’t interested in a cure, just budget cuts.