Netherlands approves cannabis cultivation
February 23, 2017 | Expert Insights
Is this a step to legalize it’s use?
On the 21 Feb 17, Dutch parliamentarians passed a bill that legalizes the cultivation of Cannabis. The move was put forth by the left wing- progressive D66 Party. The bill, will allow large-scale cultivation and vending of Cannabis, with government permit. The bill, was passed by the House of Representatives (lower house), with 77 MP’s voting in favour and 72 against. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate (upper house), to become law.
Is Cannabis now legal in the Netherlands?
Cannabis is still illegal, but government officials do not prosecute severely. It is socially (legal) to have 5g or less on person. Coffee shops are granted permits, which empower them to store up to 500g of Cannabis for customers. A large part of ‘Cannabis tourism’ is centered around these coffee shops. The difference between the social and legal positions creates a ‘grey area’ and police usually turn a blind eye to cannabis sales in Coffee shops. One rule, however, remained unnegotiable, which is that a Coffee shops cannot buy Cannabis. However, with the new rule Coffee shops can grow their own.
Why Pass the Bill?
The main reason for passing the bill and legalize cultivation and sale of marijuana, was to remove the activity of gangs and dealers from the process. Till now, to procure Cannabis, Coffee shop owners turned to gangs, who provided it, usually by illicit means. By legalizing Cannabis cultivation, the government can maintain control over supply and ensure quality of the product. D-66 , views the bill as the first step to complete legalization.
In 2016, there was a spike in shootings carried out in Coffee shops, with angry gang members venting their frustration. Competing gangs demanded place on the shelves of Coffee shops for their products. Due to the violence, many shops preferred to close down resulting in more competition for the remaining shops. The legalization of cultivation should soothe tensions and the closed shops could now reopen. Should Cannabis ultimately become legal as envisaged by the D-66, it could become a government controlled activity.
The Bill is likely to face dispute in the Senate in March, but the D-66 will push as hard as they can to progress it into law. Though unpopular with traditionalists, many believe legalizing Cannabis through regulation, is better than prohibiting it, altogether.