Municipalities in the Netherlands have signed up to a mooted four-year trial in legally growing cannabis for the first time, according to reports in the Dutch press on Friday.
The new coalition agreement said that the policy would be tested in six to 10 areas, and more have now joined up, according to the NOS broadcaster.
It is intended to see whether controlled weed growing leads to a decline in criminality around cannabis cultivation, and whether the crop could be monitored to have fewer harmful substances.
A commission report in June advised that it would be beneficial to sign up more areas rather than just early advocates such as Breda and Rotterdam, where mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb is keen to take control of distribution too.
The mayor of Breda, Paul Depla told the NOS last year that currently the only winner in the situation is the illegal market. ‘It has to be different,’ he said. ‘This is an important step in taking on organised crime.’
Currently, although cannabis smoking is strictly speaking illegal, it is allowed to be sold for consumption under a ‘tolerance’ policy. Growing more than five plants, however, is illegal and small growers have been taken to court on several occasions.
The Netherlands currently has 573 coffeeshops in 103 districts but although they can sell the substance, it is illegal for them to buy or grow it. Many areas believe legalisation and control of the growing industry would reduce criminality.
However, there are many opponents and in areas like the centre of The Hague, cannabis smoking has recently been banned entirely for reportedly encouraging antisocial behaviour.
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