Imagine getting caught in the line for a party or festival with a pill. During the Lowlands festival in the Netherlands the Public Prosecutor (OM) organised a special drug control: over one hundred festival visitors ran into trouble. They were faced with this choice: pay a fine now or wait for a lawyer.
The beats of the festival pounding appealingly in the background, what would you do? Most people chose the first option, not knowing that this meant they also signed for a criminal record. Not a very nice surprise, as with a criminal record it’s often very difficult to get a certificate of good conduct, which you need in the Netherlands in certain professional fields. With a criminal record you can forget about working for the government, in security or for courier companies.
For soft drugs a limit of five grams is set. Of hard drugs you may carry no more than am amount for a single use, which is determined to be 1 pill or half a gram. Do you have more in your pocket when you get caught? Than this could have serious consequences for your career.
A bit of an exaggeration? Broadcast company BNN thinks so too. The television program Spuiten en Slikken on BNN started a petition. With 40,000 signatures, they can submit a proposal to parliament in order to change the law. The goal: no more disproportionate punishments to small users.
You can sign the petition here.
Earlier, defence lawyers Juriaan de Vries and Christiaan Flokstra wrote an opinion article in newspaper Het Parool, in which they plea for the presence of a lawyer during festival controls. A lawyer could give the suspect information and advice before such a weighty choice is made. At Lowlands the prosecutors informed the accused about their right to see a lawyer, but they were told that it would take a long time before they would be on the spot.
PS: Unfortunately, the petition can only be signed by people with a Dutch nationality. Fill in your details as completely as possible, otherwise your signature is not valid!