by Martijn on 28/03/2014 | Legal & Politics

Dutch municipalities begin regulated cannabis growing

At least three Dutch municipalities are seriously preparing a system to regulate cannabis production, according to a report from newsletter Metro. There was supposed to be a meeting on this matter, but because the Dutch House of Commons needed more preparation time, this meeting has been postponed. The municipalities, however, find that they have waited long enough.


At least three Dutch municipalities are seriously preparing a system to regulate cannabis production, according to a report from newsletter Metro. There was supposed to be a meeting on this matter, but because the Dutch House of Commons needed more preparation time, this meeting has been postponed. The municipalities, however, find that they have waited long enough.

This is what a regulated grow facility could look like.
This is what a regulated grow facility could look like.

During the General Assembly on Tuesday the 25th of March 2014, the intention was that the Dutch House would debate current cannabis policy. One of the reasons for this debate is the Joint Regulation Manifest. During this event, held on the 31st of January this year, 30 mayors signed a petition in order to make a statement against the current cannabis policy, and because they are seeking permission from the Government to start experimenting with regulated cannabis growing. After the event another 20 mayors signed as well, making a total of 53 municipalities supporting these plans.

Problems of the so-called ‘back door’

Even after this strong, clear signal the Dutch Minister of Safety and Justice, Ivo Opstelten, is not planning to change his course at all. Still the House wanted to debate this topic, but this has been cancelled because too many Members failed to prepare for it. The cities of Heerlen, Leeuwarden and Eindhoven then declared that they have waited long enough. “We will now continue with our plans, especially since we feel the support of over 50 mayors who all suffer from the current policy”, said Monique Parijs, spokeswoman for the city of Eindhoven.

The local governments want to regulate cannabis production in order to solve the problems of the so-called ‘back door’ of the coffeeshops. In the Netherlands, the sale of small amounts of cannabis is tolerated, but the purchase of cannabis by coffeeshops is illegal; quite often the product is of poor quality too. Regulated production takes the wind out of the sails of criminal cannabis growers, makes it possible to verify the quality of the cannabis, and will generate extra tax income. A similar model is used in Uruguay and also (more or less) in the American state of Colorado. This state even declared that it learned from the mistakes of the Netherlands when deciding its cannabis policy.

UN: “…it is up to each government to decide…”

A spokesperson of the Department of Safety and Justice declared to Metro that growing cannabis without having an exemption from the Opium Act is illegal and punishable. She also claimed it is contrary to conventions with the United Nations. Her first objection could indeed cause problems, but Sensi Seeds is hoping that the force of 53 mayors supporting the experiment will be enough to prevent serious problems.

The Dutch Minister of Justice, Ivo Opstelten.
The Dutch Minister of Justice, Ivo Opstelten.

Her second argument is incorrect. During the 57th meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations, which took place from March 13th to 21st 2014 in Vienna, UNODC front man Yury Fedotov (chief of the UN department responsible for drugs and crime) declared that: “The United Nations is not a straightjacket for member states and the drug control conventions are not providing for any sanctions. They are built on the principle of the good will and compliance with international law, and it is up to each government to decide if they are complying or not complying with the provisions of international law”.

It seems that there is a lot of space in the Netherlands to experiment with a new cannabis policy, just as in Uruguay, and the American states of Colorado and Washington. The reason why it is not happening in the Netherlands seems to be the will of just one man, Ivo Opstelten.

To be continued.

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