Councils have pleaded with the government to give them more autonomy in their experiments with legal cannabis production rather than imposing a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
The new government plans to allow around 10 local authorities to regulate small-scale production in an attempt to take criminal gangs out of the supply chain. The coalition agreement has set a target of seeing ‘uniform experiments in the permitted cultivation of cannabis for recreational use’ introduced within six months.
But local mayors who have expressed an interest in the scheme argue that a diverse approach has more chance of succeeding. ‘The problems with the current cannabis policy vary by location and region,’ Jantine Kriens, head of the Dutch municipalities’ umbrella body VNG wrote earlier this month.
Some councils have already begun drafting their own proposals for how they want to organise the supply chain. Utrecht supports production through social clubs, where members grow cannabis collectively for personal use, while Heerlen wants to set up a single supplier for the eight municipalities in Limburg that have coffeeshops. Rotterdam’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, has suggested closing the coffeeshops and installing alternative sales points such as vending machines.
Paul Depla, mayor of Breda, told the Volkskrant that the risk of failure was too great if only one production method was allowed. ‘Opponents will see it as a vindication of their stance and the debate will be stalled for years,’ he said.
The government said it wanted to see what proposals were put forward before commenting in detail. ‘We are still in the early days of working out the coalition agreement,’ said a spokesman for justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus.