A majority of members of the ruling right-wing VVD want a change in the party’s policy towards legalised marijuana cultivation.
At the party congress this weekend, a majority of members voted to end the ‘strange situation’ in which the sale of small quantities of marijuana in licenced coffee shops throughout the Netherlands is accepted but production is not.
VVD ministers and MPs have consistently rejected calls for any form of regulated cultivation to remove the grey area between criminal growers and licenced sellers. The initiative for change came from a number of prominent members in the south of the country, where illegal marijuana cultivation is rife and drugs gang violence common.
The commitment to ‘clever regulation’ of cultivation and sales will now appear in the party’s manifesto for the 2017 general election and clears the way for a shift in the policy of the next government, commentators said.
Dozens of local councils in the Netherlands have endorsed a manifesto calling for the cultivation of cannabis to be legalised and regulated, and 25 have applied to the minister of justice for permission to experiment with legal growth and supply.
The police dismantled 5,856 marijuana plantations last year, or nearly 16 a day, the NRC said in July. However, police estimate this is only one fifth of the total, the paper said. In 2014, police busted just over 6,000 marijuana farms.
The government is making a major effort to stamp out production and last year made it a criminal offence for companies to supply people with lamps, fertilizer and other equipment if they suspect it is being used to grow marijuana.
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