updated 9/21/2005 2:10:19 PM ET 2005-09-21T18:10:19

A field reporter for a new Dutch television talk show plans to use heroin and other illegal drugs on the air during the weekly program on issues that concern young people, producers said Wednesday.

The announcement of “Shoot Up and Swallow,” scheduled to premiere as a late-night show Oct. 10, sparked an outcry. Even in the liberal Netherlands, where marijuana is sold and used openly, the proposed drug use by reporter Filemon Wesselink is illegal.

“This is dangerous and it sets a bad example,” said Pieter Heerma, spokesman for the governing center-right Christian Democrat party. “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 arrest anyone with less than a half gram of the highly addictive narcotic.

Smoking heroin, dropping acid
“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 show’s in-studio host, Sophie Hilbrand, will interview guests about drug use and abuse, while Wesselink appears in segments taped in the field as he experiments with drugs and liquor. Another reporter, Ties Van Westing, will do segments about engaging in sex acts, but not on camera.

For one episode, Wesselink, 26, plans to smoke heroin, said Ingrid Timmer, spokeswoman for the show’s producer, BNN. For others, he plans to go on a drinking binge in a series of pubs and to take the hallucinogenic drug LSD — on his couch under the supervision of his mother.

“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 said.

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

According to the Trimbos Institute, a Dutch group that monitors international drug use, the Dutch are about average among industrial nations.

It says 6 percent of Dutch have used marijuana recently, compared with 8 percent in the United States, 8 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 were not available.

BNN has drawn viewer complaints for previous shows, including one that included a segment on how to have sex in a nightclub.

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