VVD leaders in the south of the Netherlands are proposing an overhaul of cannabis laws to regulate cultivation, decriminalising what is currently a grey area: smoking is tolerated but growing is not.
The AD reports on Tuesday that a group of liberal party council leaders from major cities in Brabant will propose regulating cannabis cultivation at the VVD autumn congress in Noordwijkerhout this weekend.
Seven local party leaders told the paper that they want the VVD’s manifesto for the general election in March 2017 to take a clear stance on cannabis growing, rather than ignoring the issue.
‘Since there is nothing in the manifesto, we have handed in this motion,’ said Thijs van Kessel, VVD party leader in Oss. ‘We don’t want to have blinders on any more. The weed problem is larger than ever, and cannabis cultivation has grown into an entire industry. If you just scrape the surface, you see the relationship between the criminal and outside world.’
The group leader in Den Bosch, Ralph Geerts, added that: ‘Something must be done because criminality is having huge negative effects.’ Meanwhile Thierry Aartsen, parliamentary leader in Breda said: ‘Brabant is now the weed barn of the Netherlands.’
But the issue is seen as a hot potato in Mark Rutte’s party, currently in government and leading in the polls. A conference vote, reports AD, is decisive, but in the last week the liberal party in Amsterdam and The Hague have voted against regulating growing.
‘Fear of voter’
The motion, which will be handed in by the southern VVD on November 19th, reads: ‘Supplying coffee shops should be removed from criminality, making it possible to ensure the quality of the end product. We will tackle illegal growers firmly.’
Rutger de Ridder, president of the JOVD youth movement affiliated with the party, initiated the stand against current soft drugs policy, telling the AD that the party must grasp the bull by the horns but adding: ‘They are afraid of the traditional voter.’
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