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Utrecht Going ahead with Legal Cannabis-Growing Plan

THE HAGUE, 01/06/11 – Despite opposition from the cabinet, Utrecht municipality is going ahead with an experiment on legal cannabis-growing , said centre-left D66 Alderman Victor Everhardt yesterday in NRC Handelsblad newspaper.

utrecht cannabis growing legalUtrecht launched the plan for a cannabis cooperative this spring. The idea was to bring together thousands of people who would each grow five plants. The harvest would be delivered to the licensed cannabis bars (‘coffee shops’), who would in turn sell it on to their clients.

The plan was based on jurisprudence at Dutch courts. This permits someone to be acquitted of cannabis growing if found in possession of less than six plants. In that case, there is no question of commercial growing, but rather of cultivation for private usage, the argument runs.

Utrecht wanted to solve the legal dilemna around the supply of coffee shops via this move. They are allowed to have 500 grams of drugs in stock, but are not allowed to buy these stocks from someone or grow them themselves. Technically viewed, it is thus impossible for them to stay within the law.

In a drugs memorandum that appeared last week, the cabinet opposes the Utrecht plans. Experiments such as Utrecht municipality proposes violate applicable legislation and international obligations,” Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten and Health Minister Edith Scheppers wrote. “The core of our policy is that any form of cannabis cultivation is punishable and is and remains forbidden.”

The resistance of the cabinet is however “not bothersome,” says Utrecht Alderman Everhardt. “”If we want to carry out a weed experiment within the existing laws and regulations, we can do so. I do of course hope that central government will eventually support it after all.”

The experiment will start in a year and a half at the earliest, Eberhardt claims. In a second, simultaneous experiment, he wants cannabis addicts being treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist to administer controlled cannabis in the therapy. In this experiment, the cannabis could be supplied by the already existing Bureau of Medical Cannabis, a government organisation that supplies cannabis to pharmacists and research institutes.