Dutch TV presenter intends to take drugs on air

A television presenter on a new Dutch talk show plans to take heroin and other illegal drugs on air in a program intended to reach young audiences on topics that touch their lives, producers said Wednesday.

The show, scheduled to premier on late-night television Oct. 10, is called "Spuiten & Slikken," or the "Shoot Up and Swallow" show.

Even in the liberal Netherlands, where marijuana is sold and used openly, the proposed action by presenter Filemon Wesselink is illegal, and the idea was met with dismay by the governing center-right Christian Democrat party, the AP says.

"This is dangerous and it sets a bad example," party spokesman Pieter Heerma said. "We're going to ask the justice minister for his view on what the law says about this, and his view on the dangers and risks involved."

Justice Ministry spokesman Ivo Hommes said it was not immediately clear whether Wesselink could be prosecuted. Possession of any amount of heroin is illegal, but in practice police usually do not have resources to chase after people with less than a half a gram.

"The actual taking of drugs is a health problem, not a criminal act, though it's obviously hard to take drugs without possessing them first," Hommes said. "In any case it's not something we endorse, and doing it on television is undesirable."

The Shoot Up & Swallow show's main hostess will interview guests about drug use and abuse, while Wesselink and another presenter will carry out in-the-field experiments with sex and drugs.

Wesselink, 26, plans to take heroin in the form of a pill, said Ingrid Timmer, a spokeswoman for the show's producer BNN.

"It's not our intention to create an outcry. We just want to talk about subjects that are part of young people's lives," Timmer was quoted as saying by the AP.

In other segments of the show, Wesselink plans to go on a drinking binge in a series of pubs. He also will try LSD, on his couch under the supervision of his mother.

The Netherlands is known for its marijuana policy, where sale and use of the drug in small quantities are not prosecuted even though technically illegal. Other drugs, including LSD, cocaine, Ecstasy and heroin are outlawed and dealers are prosecuted. The legal age for the consumption of alcohol and tobacco is 16.

According to information from the Netherlands' Trimbos Institute, which monitors international drug use, the Dutch are about average. The institute says 6 percent of Dutch have used marijuana recently, compared with 8 percent in the United States, 9 percent in Britain and 9 percent in France. For cocaine, it was 1.1 percent in Holland, and rising quickly, compared to 1.3 percent in the United States, 1.5. percent in Britain and 0.3 percent in France. Comparable data for heroin use were not available.

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