Amsterdam Pushes to Legalise Marijuana Growing
Recently the Amsterdam Bench of Alderpersons (the Amsterdam city council) announced a majority favor for the legalization of marijuana growth in the city, through government sanction & regulation. Though this is a major step for all pro-legalisation activists in Amsterdam and the Netherlands, the primary goal of the city council’s decision was to combat the heavy organized crime that currently revolves around Amsterdam’s numerous coffee shops’ supply of marijuana.
Coffee shops are already legally allowed to sell marijuana to customers for personal use, even though possession is still technically illegal. However, as a general rule of thumb, authorities consider possession amounts of less than around 5 grams to be non-criminal (while it may technically be against the law). If the plan is realized, though, local farmers & entrepreneurs could grow and supply marijuana to coffee shops fully within legal boundaries.
The plan is aimed at ultimately taking down a large chunk of the coffee shop supply that is currently controlled by drug lords and replacing it with supply from local growers and farmers within the Amsterdam economy under the supervision of the city government, ensuring they grow their crop safely and properly.
Already, citizens and city councils of many other cities across the Netherlands have created their own similar plans, including the city councils of Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Groningen. But getting the federal government on board is a much farther off goal for the councils and activists, and with strong federal opposition from Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten and others, who even claim the plan would conflict with international & EU laws, the entire project will most likely not come to realization in the next some years.
In addition to the more well-known coffee shops that dot the city are the grow shops that provide locals with marijuana cultivation related products. The VVD majority party has, in contrast to the Amsterdam city council’s plan, proposed a law that would make it much easier for law enforcement to crack down on illegal marijuana growers. If passed, the law would make the act of planning and allowing marijuana growing with the intent to grow a crime. In essence, police who come upon a grow house with obvious external evidence (e.g. odd irrigation, foil on the windows, light fixtures visible) but no proof of marijuana plants, who in the past couldn’t start investigating, can now do so. Ard van der Steur of the parliament and the VVD party says the law would impact coffee shops industry wide and create a supply problem, but in a different light, is also an opportunity to push out illegal marijuana suppliers. The Labour party is opposed to the law; however, with the support of the majority of the opposition parties, it’s likely to become reality.