Up in smoke: Amsterdam’s mayor to ban marijuana at schools
12 Dec, 2012 17:18
Amsterdam is to become the first city in the Netherlands where students will be formally banned from smoking marijuana at school. The city’s mayor introduced the law after receiving complaints from teachers that students showed up to class stoned.
Under the current ‘policy of tolerance’ towards drugs, marijuana is considered a soft drug and though it is technically illegal, there is no active prosecution against the individual using it. Police cannot prosecute people for possession of small amounts, with up to five grams being deemed acceptable for personal use.Some schools have already had prohibited smoking but done so as individual institutions, rather than city ordained legislation. "This year we have introduced a ban on smoking. We have since become a smoke-free school,” Jolanda Hogewind, head of the Calvijn met Junior College, was quoted by Dutch national newspaper, Volkskrant, as saying. "If a student still smokes on the schoolyard, we warn once. In a second time we send a letter, and if the student persists in his behavior, we invite parents to a meeting," said the director.When the law is put in force, schools will be able to involve the police if teenagers are caught smoking on school premises.However, some supporters of the initiative, like Hogewind, say that schools must be free to maintain their own rules. All previous attempts to ban marijuana from schools have not succeeded, as the Council of State insisted that it was technically impossible to ban something which is illegal. But recent changes in drug law make this possible. The city will now be able to declare starting January 1 "no toking zones" – areas like schools and playgrounds where weed-smoking will be forbidden. The law may also affect tourists as some 44 of the city’s 220 cannabis cafes – Amsterdam’s popular attraction among guests of the city – will have to close because they are less than 250 metres from a school.Earlier there have been calls to introduce a national "weed pass" that would have blocked tourists from buying marijuana. But the initiative was widely opposed by Amsterdam. Last month, the city major Van der Laan allowed coffee shops to stay open for tourists.The capital will still have more coffee shops than The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht put together, local Parool newspaper reported. The government is also planning to raise the age at which teenagers can buy cigarettes to 18.