Canadian marijuana legalisation has not removed crime: Dutch police lecturer

Photo: wollertz
Photo: wollertz

Canada’s decision to legalise cannabis has not resulted in removing organised crime from the chain, a Dutch police academic warned on Tuesday.

Police Academy lecturer Pieter Tops, who visited Canada as part of a police delegation last month, told current affairs show Nieuwsuur that it remains easy for criminals to get hold of legally-grown marijuana.

‘The most important conclusion we can draw is that it is a mistake to think you can reduce the illegal cannabis world by legalisation,’ Tops said. The Canadian system, he said, has a number of weak points although it looks good on paper.

The illegal cannabis world has enormous power, Tops said. ‘You can have as much cannabis at home as you want, and that has all sorts of options for the illegal trade,’ he said. ‘And the legal shops are having a tough time because illegal cannabis is a third cheaper. That makes it hard to compete.’

The Netherlands plans to begin trials with regulated marijuana production although the draft legislation still has to be approved by the lower house of parliament.

The experiment with regulated growing is supposed to remove the gray area between the sale of marijuana in council-licenced coffee shops and the illegal cultivation and supply.

However, there are so many problems with the proposals that the big cities, where most of the coffee shops are located, see no point in joining in.

Four years

One issue is with the four year trial period, which will not be extended, even if the experiment is successful. This means that coffee shop owners will be forced back into the illegal circuit after four years of selling ‘legal’ marijuana.

Another objection is the requirement that all coffee shops within a council area take part in the scheme. In Amsterdam, with 175 coffee shops, this would be impossible to control, mayor Femke Halsema said.

In addition, the coffee shops would not be allowed to sell any ‘foreign’ hashish, which currently accounts for up to 25% of sales. This would drive users into the illegal circuit, experts say.

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