The Dutch Labour Party has backed the idea of legalising marijuana production if it takes the supply chain out of the hands of criminals.
24 January 2014
Labour MP Marith Rebel says justice minister Ivo Opstelten should listen to councils’ point of view.Labour MP Marith Rebel said the government should listen to local councils who have asked to be allowed to regulate cannabis cultivation.
She called for justice minister Ivo Opstelten to drop his opposition to legalised cannabis production. Opstelten has threatened in the past to go to court to stop municipalities such as Utrecht from authorising cannabis growers.
“The minister needs to take the municipalities’ accounts seriously,” said Rebel. “I am asking Opstelten to reconsider his view and sit down again with the councils.
“Like him the councils want to reduce the negative effects of cultivation and illegal trade. And they are best placed to know what needs to be done to achieve this.”
It is the first time since Labour (PvdA) joined Mark Rutte’s coalition government in September 2011 that the party has explicitly spoken out against Opstelten’s policy on drugs.
The Liberal (VVD) minister has blocked all attempts to extend the current drugs laws in the Netherlands. Drugs are illegal but small quantities of soft drugs can be bought from licensed premises (‘coffeeshops’) under tightly regulated conditions.
Only people resident in the Netherlands are legally allowed to visit coffeeshops, but it is left to local mayors to decide whether the rule is enforced. In Amsterdam, which is home to around one-third of the cannabis cafes, tourists are still welcome, while Maastricht strictly enforces the ban on foreigners.
In the last few years a number of local councils have explored ways to set up a legal production chain in order to decriminalise the wholesale trade.
In September Utrecht asked the justice ministry to exempt the Social Cannabis Club Domstad, a collective of small-scale growers, from the ban on cultivating the drug. Until now only producers of medicinal cannabis have been exempted.