Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema recently called for the legalization and regulation of cocaine.
“We have handed the market to unscrupulous criminals,” Halsema said, according to High Times, citing an interview with the Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad. “They earn billions. And in the meantime, the war on drugs is disrupting entire countries, causing countless victims and strengthening the criminal business model.”
Halsema believes that decriminalizing and legalizing cocaine sales would diminish illegal operations run by organized crime group, plus would offer safer and controlled drugs to those who use it anyway.
“Let us conclude that hundreds of years of discouragement and repression have achieved very little,” Halsema told the outlet, “Apparently people have a need for stimulants. There is a market for that.”
Cocaine Production Booming
According to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), published in March 2023, cocaine production reached a record high in 2020 with 2,000 tons manufactured. What’s more, Dutch Customs seized nearly 60,000 kilograms of cocaine last year, indicating a notable increase from the year prior, when it seized more than 51,000 kg of cocaine.
In November, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction released data revealing that cocaine is the second most commonly used substance in Europe, next to marijuana.
“The widespread use of drugs is integrated into society. The market is enormous. But there are risks to public health and then you should not leave the market to criminals,” Halsema said to Financieele Dagblad. “Abusing drugs can have serious consequences. But often the risks are exaggerated. Cocaine, for example, is less harmful than alcohol. People make their own choices.”
If the mayor successfully implements this plan, Amsterdam will join other cities in exploring a legal cocaine market. Just last June, lawmakers in Switzerland’s administrative capital, Bern, gave a green light to a motion by the Alternative Left Party asking the city to launch a pilot trial on controlled sales of cocaine.