Amsterdam to ban joints in schools

2012-12-13 17:34
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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The Hague - Amsterdam's mayor Eberhard van der Laan is to formally ban cannabis smoking at all schools, the first city in the soft-drug tolerant Netherlands to do so, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

"The mayor has announced that there will be an official ban on smoking joints at and around Amsterdam's schools," Iris Reshef told AFP, saying implementation was planned for early next year.

Although cannabis remains technically illegal and hard drugs are strictly forbidden in the Netherlands, the country decriminalised possession of less than 5g of weed in 1976.

Most of Amsterdam's schools already had their own "house rules" against dope smoking, Reshef acknowledged.

The formal ban simply meant teachers would be able to call the police in cases where pupils refused to comply, she added.

"This could lead to a fine or even community service. But it is mainly meant as an instrument of last resort."

Closing cafes near schools

Although the practice has already been implemented elsewhere in the country, "Amsterdam is the first to do it across the board," she added.

In a letter to the city council on Monday, Van der Laan also made it clear the official ban was to "support schools which already have taken their own measures" to stop the practice.

In his letter, he said he was also looking at banning joint-smoking in playgrounds. And he wanted to ensure that some 44 so-called cannabis cafes closer than 250m from schools were closed by January 2014.

The government announced last month it was ditching plans for a controversial "weed-pass" law. While it was aimed at banning foreigners from coffee shops, it would also have obliged local smokers to show identification and register in a local database.

Van der Laan had opposed that proposal.

Instead, his letter supported a new initiative that would allow Dutch cities themselves to decide whether to bar foreign drug tourists.

"Adult tourists remain welcome at the city's coffee shops," the mayor said.

Amsterdam itself has 220 coffee shops.


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