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War on Drugs: shutting down drug dens and homes

23 November 2016

Lawyer Michelle Bruijn researches the pros and cons of closing premises due to drugs nuisance. Her research reveals that civilians have less success in a legal appeal against this decision if it concerns hard drugs, and that home owners have more success than the owners of coffee shops.

How can the government counteract drugs nuisance? The criminal law route is long and complicated, but administrative law offers a quick alternative. In the Netherlands, a mayor can immediately close a home or shop if hard or soft drugs are being sold there or if marijuana is being grown. In practice this means that the mayor physically closes the premises in question: the doors and windows are hammered shut. Such closures can have far-reaching consequences, however. For example, shops and businesses are forced to close (temporarily) and residents are confronted with the (temporary) loss of their home. Lawyer Michelle Bruijn researches the pros and cons of this tactic in the War on Drugs. She performed a statistical analysis of legal decisions after an appeal was submitted. Her research reveals that civilians have less success if it concerns hard drugs, and that home owners have more success than the owners of coffee shops. Finally, she compared the Dutch approach to the American approach.

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Last modified:13 March 2020 02.07 a.m.
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