The Dutch city of Eindhoven has caused a stir with a plan to set up a cannabis plantation to supply marijuana to its coffee shops. The move was announced at a “weed summit”, when dozens of Dutch mayors urged the government to back the pilot project in an effort to clamp down on the criminals who supply the drug.
The Netherlands, famed for having one of Europe’s most tolerant policies on soft drugs, allows for the possession of less than 5g of marijuana and its sale in coffee shops, but bans the cultivation and supply of the drug to these shops. The majority of Dutch mayors say this legal “back door” has spawned an illicit industry worth €2bn (£1.7bn) a year.
“It’s time that we experimented with a system of regulated plantations so we can have strict guidelines and controls on the quality and price,” Rob de Gijzel, the Mayor of Eindhoven, told the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant. “Authorities must get a grip on the supply of drugs to coffee shops.”
There are also concerns about the increasing strength of unregulated cannabis, with the content of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active chemical ingredient, doubling in recent years.
The weed summit was called to thrash out a revamp of drugs policy after the provincial cities Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom announced plans to shut all their coffee shops in the next two years to combat drugs tourism and criminal activity. They complain that the 1.3 million French and Belgians who come every year for a puff of weed or dash of hash are often badly behaved. Worse still, they are targeted by “drugs runners” who lure them away from legal outlets to back-door suppliers that offer harder, illegal drugs.
Han Polman, the Mayor of Bergen op Zoom, said: “We are in favour of the Eindhoven experiment but we don’t see it happening quickly. That’s why we are going ahead with our shutdown.”
The Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, of the conservative Christian Democratic Appeal party, has applauded these “courageous” efforts to wipe out coffee shops.
The capital, Amsterdam, was in shock over the weekend after news that one in five of its coffee shops would be forced to close under a new law. The city council said 43 of 228 sites must close by the end of 2011 because they are within 250m of a school. This includes the famous Bulldog coffee shop, a tourist magnet housed in a former police headquarters on the Leidseplein. Three Canadian visitors were reeling from the news. One said: “We come here twice a year, we fly thousands of miles, spend probably €4,000 while we are here. It’s the place to be!”
The headmistress of a nearby school, Margriet Bosman, was equally unimpressed by the new measure: “This is just for show. Children will get their drugs if they want to anyway, and closing the shops, which are quite regulated, is not a very good solution.”
Amsterdam’s mayor, Job Cohen, is also in favour of permitting the sale of soft drugs. “There should be a system… in which it is clear where soft drugs come from,” he said. Many Dutch also want the tolerant approach to remain in place, with a newspaper poll this week showing 80 per cent of Dutch opposing coffee shop closures.
Experts agree that a ban is not the answer. “A ban is even more dangerous than the grass itself because consumers will turn to illegal circuits and criminality will explode,” said Tim Boekhout, a criminologist.
The only thing wrong with this plan is that the state is going to be the one setting up the plantation. They should completely legalize the growing and selling of marijuana, so that anyone can grow it anywhere and anyone can sell it….just like tomatoes.
It is completely insane and absurd that you are allowed to posses marijuana, but not allowed to grow it or sell it.
When people say, “the law is an ass”, this is what they are talking about.
There are no irrational regulations on the plantation of other crops for eating, and so there should be no irrational regulation on the growing of marijuana. If there are irrational regulations, i.e. what strains you cannot grow, someone, some ‘criminal’ is going to grow those strains simply because she should not. In any case, the crime routing around the law argument is irrelevant; no one has the right to stop you from growing whatever you want. Period. (GM being the exception, since the GM pollen can contaminate other people’s crops….small digression).
Words about the ‘increasing strength of unregulated cannabis’ come directly from the prohibitionist position, and are totally wrong. The strength or weakness of what you smoke should not be regulated by anyone, except you.
As for the Belgians and French who come to get a taste of liberty, that is a problem for the French and the Belgians to sort out. If their countries were operating correctly, there would be no reason to come to the Netherlands to smoke a plant and its extracts.
This nonsense about coffee shops being near schools is, as the teacher says, “just for show”. I’m sure no one is buying it there…what amazes me is that people are so stupid as to think that such a law would be taken seriously in the first place, or that it would in any way ‘work’ whatever they think ‘working’ is in this case.
Job Cohen is wrong to say there should be a system to show where ‘drugs’ come from.
when people are left to get on with their stuff in what ever way they want, they set their own standards, make what people want and everyone is catered for.
Artisan Bread Original makes a wide variety of high quality breads. No one told them how to do it, what the quality should be or anything else. It sells on its own merits and people buy it and are satisfied.
The same goes for marijuana. Growers will package it and categorize it themselves and the ones who know how best to do this will sell the most, with every other seller finding their own place in the market by virtue of people selecting them or not.
Finally, the argument about what is or is not in marijuana is simply nonsense. Cigarettes are full of toxic chemicals (599 to be exact) to aid the rate of burning and other qualities that the manufacturer is not required to list on the box:
The list of 599 additives approved by the US Government for use in the manufacture of cigarettes is something every smoker should see. Submitted by the five major American cigarette companies to the Dept. of Health and Human Services in April of 1994, this list of ingredients had long been kept a secret.
Tobacco companies reporting this information were:
- American Tobacco Company
- Brown and Williamson
- Liggett Group, Inc.
- Philip Morris Inc.
- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
While these ingredients are approved as additives for foods, they were not tested by burning them, and it is the burning of many of these substances which changes their properties, often for the worse.
Marijuana does not currently have any of these artificial additives…but I can assure you that if the state gets involved in the marijuana trade, those deadly chemicals and others will be added.