Two foundations in Utrecht are to apply for exemption from the opium laws so they can set up ‘cannabis clubs’ to grow marijuana for medical research with city council backing, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.
Council alderman Victor Everhardt, who is behind the plans, hopes his ‘cannabis club’ concept can become a reality on public health grounds.
The aim of the experiment, says the Volkskrant, is to find out if the club’s members’ psychological condition improves, if ‘home grown’ marijuana is less dangerous than that sold in the country’s coffee shops, and if cannabis club members cause less of a public nuisance.
The city council says the clubs would be a suitable alternative to coffee shops, which are largely supplied by organised crime.
In addition, coffee shop marijuana is often grown using large amounts of chemicals and its THC percentage – the active ingredient – can be above 15%. The government is planning to treat marijuana with a higher THC content as a hard drug.
A number of cities have recently called on the government to regulate marijuana production, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Groningen, Nijmegen and Zwolle. Everhardt told the Volkskrant his plan is different.
For example, the club would have a maximum 100 members, he said.
Lawyer André Beckers, who specialises in cannabis and coffee shop policy, said the health angle offers more options. ‘In America there are enough medical marijuana shops which look suspiciously like our coffee shops,’ he told the paper.
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