Amsterdam to call for legalised marijuana cultivation

Amsterdam city council is to urge the national government to give local authorities the power to allow legal marijuana production to supply cannabis cafes.

A majority of city councillors have voted in favour of the plan, which they say would remove the criminal element from the supply chain.

Currently, the city’s so-called coffee shops are licensed to sell small amounts of marijuana and cannabis for personal use. And while possession is not legal, the police turn an official blind eye to people having less than five grammes.

Organised crime

But the shops are largely supplied by big drugs traders and the council wants to set up its own plantations to keep out the criminal element. The city councils in Groningen, Utrecht and Rotterdam have already made similar pleas.

Nevertheless, the likelihood of this happening is virtually zero because justice minister Ivo Opstelten is totally opposed to the idea, the Parool pointed out.

He argues it would break not only current Dutch drugs laws but international and EU treaties as well.

Grow your own

Last week it emerged that the ruling VVD and Labour party are divided on plans to get tough on ‘growshops’, shops where supplies for growing marijuana are sold – mainly to private individuals.

The VVD wants to continue with the previous government’s plans to make ‘preparations and enabling illegal marijuana cultivation’ a criminal offence.

Most opposition parties back the proposal, meaning there is enough support in both houses of parliament to ensure the proposal becomes law without the Labour party.

VVD parliamentarian Ard van der Steur said the new law would make it difficult to supply coffee shops but that parliament should not ignore opportunities to tackle organised crime.

At the moment, the police are powerless to act if they find a building kitted out to grow marijuana, complete with lamps and watering systems, but no plants, he said. ‘The new law will make this possible.’