Hoogeveners who like to smoke a joint may in the future be able to legally obtain their fun cigarette in the municipality. Tonight there was enough support in the city council for a possible arrival of a coffee shop in the municipality.
That happens after a motion by the VVD. The party wants to enable the open sale of cannabis. That plan received a lot of support. The factions of Municipal Interests, PvdA, SP, GroenLinks and D66 are co-applicants of the proposal. Together, the parties have a majority, namely 17 of the 29 seats.
At the moment it is not possible to open a coffee shop in Hoogeveen. The municipality has had a zero policy since 2004. Hoogeveen is therefore the only one of the four large municipalities in Drenthe where this applies. In Assen, Emmen and Meppel residents can score a blow at a weed tent.
The motion is being submitted, among other things, because of the wish of a Hoogevener who wants to start a coffee shop. The creator of the plan expressed his wish at a meeting of the VVD and GroenLinks. That sounded promising, according to the groups.
More relaxed Hoogeveen?
By submitting the motion, the parties hope to be able to do something against street crime. “You regulate sales, so that people do not buy soft drugs elsewhere. That makes it safer,” says Ronald Klok of the VVD. “Hoogeveen will not be a drug capital, because it is already possible in the other large cities in Drenthe.”
However, he says strict rules should be put in place. “Good controls on age, advertising and a maximum on the number of grams that people can buy. The world is changing, it is possible in other places. It is good to put a number of principles aside, for a more relaxed Hoogeveen.”
Co-applicant Jeroen Pomper of the SP thinks that street crime will not immediately disappear with the arrival of a coffee shop, but does support the plan. “The way in which the store buys weed remains dubious, of course, but that does not alter the fact that Hoogeveen cannot keep up with the times. There are plenty of positives to open a coffee shop, as long as there are good controls.”
Lisa Schonewille (PvdA) thinks arguing against a coffee shop resembles ostrich politics. “We can pretend that no soft drugs are sold in our municipality, but that is of course the case.” According to the councilor, research by addiction clinic Jellinek shows that crime decreases due to the arrival of a coffee shop. “That seems like progress to me.”
‘You legalize problems’
The CDA said it did not support the plans. The party believes that the arrival of a coffee shop will not benefit local society. “It will not work out if we allow addictive substances,” explains Femke Koekoek. Neighbor Brand van Rijn of the SGP agreed. “You legalize the problems, as it were. I can’t go along with that.”
Forum for Democracy also voted against. “We see that people turn to drugs to forget their problems. That is precisely the problem of our time. Nobody asks: why do people do this? People are unhappy and turn to drugs or drink. figuring out how we can help them. You can’t do that by legalizing soft drugs.”
Plan of action
Karel Loohuis spoke on behalf of the Board during the meeting. According to the mayor, the petitioners’ request is feasible. He did, however, propose that an action plan be drawn up before the Commission comes up with policy proposals. “We explicitly want to enter into discussions with the council, the police and professionals. It is also good to involve citizens in this. That must happen first, then we will only enter the policy process.”
“It is also not yet known who will eventually start a coffee shop. Someone who is the first to report for a permit will not immediately receive it. There will be an extensive procedure. But it is not yet that far, first we have to agree conversation and devise the plans,” concludes Loohuis.