A majority of MPs now seem likely to back draft legislation from the Liberal democratic party D66 which would regulate legalised marijuana cultivation under government control.
The bill, drawn up by MP Vera Bergkamp, was backed by Labour, GroenLinks, the Socialist and pro-animal PvdD. But now two MPs who left the anti-Islam PVV to form a breakaway right-wing party have said they too will support the measure, the AD said on Friday.
Bergkamp hopes that introducing licenced marijuana production will remove the grey area between illegal cultivation and licenced cannabis cafes or coffee shops, where small amounts of marijuana can be bought for personal use.
‘You can buy weed but you can’t grow and transport it, and that is wrong,’ Bergkamp told broadcaster NOS. ‘If we regulate it, that will be good for health and to control criminality. A large percentage of the population and local councils support the measure as well.’
The new law will also introduce quality controls. ‘People nowadays have no idea what they are smoking,’ Bergkamp said.
The bill envisages coffee shop owners buying their produce from licenced growers who produce the marijuana in a closed system. Producers will have to meet certain conditions and be checked by officials.
Even though there is a general election next March, Bergkamp is optimistic the bill can be passed by the lower house of parliament before then. The bill has already been looked at by the Council of State advisory body and its recommendations have been included in the revised version.
Research by Radboud University earlier this year said legalising cannabis production would have benefits for public health and human rights. The study found that illegal cannabis production was linked to criminal violence, fires, environmental and noise pollution and the spread of legionella bacteria.
However, the government remains opposed to the idea. Justice minister Ard van der Steur says the report’s findings are no reason to change policy on cannabis cafes. The researchers had not proved that crime would be reduced with legalised cultivation and that it would also conflict with the official strategy to discourage youngsters from taking up the habit, the minister said earlier this year.