Local councils call for regulated marijuana growing to keep out criminal gangs

marijuana coffee shops drugsThe Dutch local authorities’ organisation VNG is calling on the government to sanction regulated marijuana production by introducing licences for growers.

The move is necessary to take marijuana out of the hands of organised crime and smugglers, the VNG says in a new report, previewed in the Volkskrant. All 393 local authorities in the Netherlands are members of the VNG.

Marijuana may be legally sold in small quantities in the Netherlands via licensed cafes, known as coffee shops, but the supply remains a grey area and in criminal hands.




‘The current situation cannot continue,’ the report states. ‘As local officials, we are experiencing major social problems.’

‘By turning a blind eye [to marijuana], the government is giving criminals free rein to sell their products. The cannabis industry is closely entwined with organised crime, which is also involved in ecstasy and human trafficking,’ the report says.

Influence

In addition, officials say they are very concerned about attempts by organised crime to influence local government.

The government must either ban soft drugs completely or allow them to be freely produced and sold. They favour licensing small-scale and localised production. And sales points should be more focused on health issues than the ‘big, commercial operations that many coffee shops have now become’.

Successive justice ministers have made it clear they see no room for regulated production, claiming it would conflict with international drugs treaties.

The report was drawn up by seven mayors with local officials and has taken eight months to complete.


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