THE HAGUE, Apr 3 – The southern Dutch city of Eindhoven has come up with a proposal it believes will curb the illegal supply of cannabis to the city’s so-called coffee shops: they suggest growing it themselves.
“The Eindhoven municipality has come out in favour of a pilot project regarding the controlled cultivation of cannabis,” Eindhoven’s mayor Rob van Gijzel said in a letter, a copy of which was handed to AFP on Wednesday.
“This suggestion is aimed at using controlled cultivation to curb the ‘back-door’ problems associated with illegal supply to coffee shops,” Van Gijzel said in the notice, penned to Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.
Cultivation and selling of cannabis are technically illegal in the Netherlands but in practice both are tolerated.
The Dutch government in November last year dropped a controversial “weed pass” law aimed at barring foreign tourists from cannabis cafes and to ask locals to register in a database.
The scrapping gave Dutch cities like Eindhoven the freedom to decide themselves whether to bar drug travellers.
In a bid to clamp down on supplies associated with larger-scale crime, Opstelten in early February asked councils to make suggestions about the small-scale growing of marijuana.
According to Van Gijzel, large-scale cannabis cultivation happens in the scenic southern Eindhoven region with “the heavy presence of organised crime”.
“This leads to money laundering, fraud, threats and intimidation,” Van Gijzel said, adding that “it forces coffee shop owners to do business with criminals”.
“The current coffee-shop policy does not work,” he said.
Instead Eindhoven has suggested growing its own weed under supervision, thus “diluting the influence of organised crime”, and making sure the cannabis was of good quality.
Van Gijzel proposed that the pilot project should run for a period of three years.
Other city councils from all over the Netherlands also sent in suggestions on how to manage small-scale weed-growing, Justice Ministry spokesman Job van de Sande told AFP.
But finding a solution is complex.
According to Van de Sande, “there cannot be legal cultivation of cannabis as it is contrary to Dutch law and international treaties,” on drug prevention.
He said Opstelten is due to study the propositions before making a final announcement.
There are some 670 legal coffee shops currently operating in the Netherlands and the cannabis culture is a major tourist drawcard.
Although cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, the country in 1976 decriminalised possession and sale of less than five grammes (around a sixth of an ounce) of the drug.