A couple who grew marijuana ‘by the book’ and informed the tax office about their income have been found guilty of running an illegal plantation and given three month suspended jail sentences on appeal, news agency ANP reports on Wednesday.
The middle-aged couple come from Bierum in Groningen province and have been arrested several times for marijuana production. They say that using legal electricity, paying tax and having no criminal connections show that marijuana can be grown without problems.
The Netherlands turns a blind eye to the consumption of small amounts of marijuana sold through licenced coffee shops but production remains illegal.
Last October, a lower court said the couple had always been honest in their dealings with police and justice ministry officials and had acted in the spirit of Dutch soft drugs legislation with regard to public health and public safety. Although they were guilty of running an illegal plantation, they should not face punishment, the court said.
‘The fact that a blind eye is turned to the sale of soft drugs through coffee shops implies that coffee shops are supplied and that [the marijuana] has to be grown,’ the court said. The official policy, the court continued, ‘does not address how this should happen’.
The couple have been growing marijuana since 2009 and have been busted several times. So far police have seized 2,500 plants, 900 cuttings and 8 kilos of marijuana from their plantations.
The appeal court said on Wednesday the couple would now face suspended jail terms because they had continued to grow marijuana after the police raided their property.
Lawyer Sidney Smeets said the appeal court ruling is ‘cowardly’. By not allowing the safe and responsible production of marijuana, ‘the court is handing the coffee shops over to organised crime’.