A new episode of De Rekenkamer (The auditing room) which calculates the costs of all kinds of things, was broadcast on the Dutch public broadcasting channel on 15 May 2014. This episode examined what the actual cost is of the current cannabis policy in the Netherlands. Key question: What does weed cost society?
A new episode of De Rekenkamer (The auditing room), which calculates the costs of all kinds of things, was broadcast on the Dutch public broadcasting channel on 15 May 2014. While humour plays a large role in the programme, the idea behind it is very serious.
This episode examined what the actual cost is of the current cannabis policy in the Netherlands, whereby the sale of cannabis is tolerated but the procurement by coffee shops is illegal.
What does weed cost society? That was the key question of this episode. The programme summarises the answer in 25 minutes, which was investigated by visiting a coffee shop, speaking to various experts and by taking a peek behind the scenes in Colorado.
It clearly illustrates how nonsensical it is that use is tolerated on the one hand, while production is tackled hard-handedly on the other. And while this programme focusses on the Dutch market, it also gives insight into just how much of a waste of money the War on Drugs really is.
High costs, low benefits
A number of interesting facts and figures worth repeating with regard to the Dutch cannabis policy are listed below.
- Dirk Korf from Bongers Institute in the Netherlands estimates that there are approximately 550 thousand daily users of cannabis;
- Daily users of cannabis jointly consume 60 tons of weed every year, which is the equivalent to sales of over half a million euros;
- According to an estimate there are 50 thousand weed plantations in the Netherlands, which is the equivalent to 1 plantation for every 5 streets;
- Only 5 to 6 thousand nurseries are dismantled each year, which is the equivalent to 20 each day and €160 million each year;
- 1 million Kilowatts of electricity is stolen each year, which is the equivalent of €200 million.
Altogether, tackling cannabis production in the Netherlands costs €465 million per year, as a result of which only 10% of the nurseries are closed down. Business Analyst Paul Turken rightly points out that users remain out of harm’s way. It is a waste of money if, while the supply is tackled, the users’ market – the demand – is upheld.
De Rekenkamer also went to Colorado, where they visited one of the marijuana dispensaries (as coffee shops are known locally) and a nursery and spoke to market players. The legal cannabis market there probably raised $660 million (approx. €482 million) in the first year, with $40 million being spent on education.
In the Netherlands, legalising cultivation would raise some €250 to €300 million in tax revenues. Add to that the €465 million that would be saved and in total legalisation would raise over €750 million. Comparable sums apply to every country that actively tackles cannabis production.
Along with the rest of the Dutch cannabis branch, Sensi Seeds regrets the fact that the government sticks so resolutely to the current policy and is so blind to alternatives. The fact that there are alternatives has been proven by a group of Dutch mayors, and by Colorado, Washington and Uruguay. Sensi Seeds hopes that the Netherlands and the rest of the world will open their eyes sooner rather than later.