At least 10 of the Netherlands’ local councils have already or will soon submit plans to the justice ministry asking to be allowed to approve commercial marijuana growing.
Research by newspaper Trouw showed councils are highly critical of official government policy on marijuana and say legalised production would remove organised crime from the equation.
‘Marijuana does not fall from the sky,’ Heerlen mayor Paul Depla told the paper. ‘If the minister wants to tackle illegal plantations, then the government has to take over growing marijuana itself.’
Venlo, Zwijndrecht, Eindhoven, Tilburg, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague have all called for regulated growing, Trouw said.
In addition, 19 of the 40 local authority areas contacted by Trouw are not implementing government policy which states tourists have to be refused entry to coffee shops – the cafes where small amounts of cannabis can be bought for personal use.
Since January 1, coffee shops are required by law to ensure only official residents of the Netherlands are allowed to buy cannabis products. However, the legislation gives scope for ‘local circumstances’ to be taken into account.
New research published by the Trimbos addiction research clinic at the weekend showed the Dutch are moderate cannabis users compared with some other EU countries.
Intensive Dutch users go through 310 grammes in a year, just under the average in the seven countries investigated. England and Wales topped the list with 374 grammes a year.
Dutch use of cannabis is low across all age-groups, Trimbos researcher Franz Trautmann told RTL news.
‘It is a little higher than the European average among youngsters but lower among adults,’ he said. ‘In other words, our policy of turning a blind eye does not lead to more usage. Youngsters experiment but then lots of them stop.’
The research also showed nine out of 10 Dutch cannabis users mix their marijuana with tobacco. By contrast, 30% of Bulgarians, Czechs and Britons smoke the drug neat.
Just 9% of Dutch marijuana users said they can access hard drugs via their regular supplier – usually dealers who hang around in coffee shops. In the other countries, between 25% and 50% of marijuana users said their regular dealers also sold other drugs.