Plans are underway that will see the Netherlands become the EU’s first country that legally cultivates cannabis for recreational purposes.
Most people associate the Netherlands with cannabis due to the popularity of it’s ‘coffeeshops’. However, most people do not realise that these coffee shops rely entire on the illegal market in sourcing their produce.
This is because the cultivation of recreational cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands. This creates a confusing situation where the sale of small quantities of cannabis is tolerated, but these vendors must purchase their produce from the illegal market.
Coffeeshops are legally allowed to stop up to 500 grams of cannabis on their premises. This amount is inadequate in order to meet the demand in tourist-oriented cities such as Amsterdam.
Customers are allowed to purchase up to 5 grams of cannabis for personal use, and the resale of this cannabis is strictly forbidden.
Under Dutch law, nobody may be prosecuted for possessing 4 or fewer grams of cannabis, as long as this amount is for personal use only.
Dutch citizens are also legally permitted to grow up to five cannabis plants in their home.
Because coffee shops must source cannabis from the illegal market, the cannabis sold in the Netherlands for recreational use entirely lacks the sort of quality control and regulation that applies to all other consumables.
Regulating the supply of cannabis will serve to give more choice to the consumer. For instance, legally supplied cannabis will mean consumers are informed about the cannabinoid content, THC level and were the cannabis was sourced from. Currently, consumers simply have no idea what they are smoking.
The illegalisation of cannabis cultivation in the Netherlands has benefited organised criminals both in Europe and northern Africa where cannabis is produced. In recent years, this illegal supply chain is believed to have been linked to violent crimes in the Netherlands.
For instance, several coffee shops have been attacked by criminals over the last few years. These attacks have highlighted the need to regulate the supply of cannabis in the Netherlands. These attacks include drive-by shootings fuelled by disputes between rival gangs supplying these coffeeshops with cannabis.
It’s important that this plan to legally cultivate cannabis in the Netherlands for recreational purposes is merely for a trial period. The cultivations will be spread over ten different parts of the Netherlands over a four-year period. The Dutch Government has appointed a specially-appointed commissioner to oversee these plans.
Several local counties have already applied to host the cultivations within their boundaries. Amongst these interested parties is the mayor of Rotterdam.
Once the cultivations are set up, they will then ship their produce to licenced coffee shops within their county. Once the four-year trial period has lapsed, the Dutch Government claims these cultivations will be discontinued over a six-month period so that the results of the trial may be fully assessed.
The Dutch Government has stressed that this trial’s aim is to reduce the harm caused by sourcing recreational cannabis from illegal sources. The trail will aim to completely shut off the influence that’s been built up by criminal gangs in this area. The aim is not to profit from the commercial trade of recreational cannabis.
We believe this trial is a watershed moment because this will be the first legal cultivation in the entire EU for recreational cannabis.