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Why Dutch mayors want to cultivate cannabis

Dutch laws governing marijuana use are so liberal that even the US pop star Miley Cyrus failed to spark too much controversy when she lit a joint on stage in Amsterdam last year.

Now, 35 mayors are urging the government to take it a step further and let them grow cannabis too, as a global shift in favour of legalisation is leaving the once forward-thinking Netherlands lagging behind.

In a manifesto signed last week, the mayors of cities including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht argue that the current laws allowing the sale but banning the cultivation of marijuana mean the nation’s cannabis cafés have to turn to illegal gangs for their supply, encouraging organised crime and wasting valuable police time dismantling unlawful plantations.

Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, said the coffee shops were having to rely on “murky worlds” and called the current situation “unsustainable”, the public broadcaster RTV reported. If local municipalities were able to grow the drug in a regulated environment, proponents argue, that would cut out the criminal middlemen and generate revenue for the cities.

“The Netherlands no longer leads the way: what we have is a bizarre system of banning and allowing cannabis at the same time,” Arend van den Berg, editor-in-chief of the Z24 business news website, wrote in an editorial. The current laws mean “coffee shops have to bend over backwards to safeguard their supply line, giving criminals a chance to get involved and endangering quality”.

By Charlotte  McDonald-Gibson
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