The Netherlands government’s approval to decriminalize the possession of five grams of cannabis back in 1976 led to a prevalent opening of coffee shops throughout several Dutch cities that offered their patrons the opportunity to purchase a bit of pot along with their cup of earl grey tea.
When coffee shops began opening their doors to sell more than just java and scones, the shop owners were expected to acquire their cannabis supply from local, small grow operations.
In the beginning, coffee shopkeepers were limited to picking up 10 grams here, and another 10 grams there from local growers around town in order to stock their shops with an assortment of pot offerings.
But as the popularity of the shops increased and the demand for their tolerated product started outweighing the available supply, shop owners were forced to find different means of stocking their mason jars in order to meet the needs of their needy customers.
The shopkeeper’s growing need for a bigger supply of weed required them to seek out individuals that grow cannabis on a larger scale, which according to Franz Trautmann, from the Head Unit of International Affairs at the Trimbos Institute, merely fuels organized crime.
“Our policy has criminalized the growers; they defend their criminal interest,” Trautman affirmed. “It’s not a moral judgment, it’s economy.”
Today, there are 54 Dutch mayors that are working to amend the country’s current laws regarding the cultivation of cannabis for commercial dedications.
Said mayors have collectively signed a Joint Regulation Manifesto, which was initiated by Heerlen Mayor Paul Depla, that is planned to regulate cannabis farming.
Those Dutch mayors that have signed the aforementioned proposal argue that such regulation would aid in dealing with the consequences of having an illegal market and facilitate control over the potency of cannabis that’s being obtained for sale to the public and its overall accessibility to shop owners.
And as far as public opinion concerning the regulating the cultivation of cannabis goes, reports show that 65 percent of the populace are in support of such a bylaw that would setup a regulatory system similar to that of the one that currently exists in Uruguay.
It’s believed that local reforms of this nature would give power to municipalities in order to regain control of the cannabis market which currently is dominated by a criminal element.
Heerlen Mayor Paul Depla argues that according to reports from city authorities, unregulated cannabis cultivation is a direct result of house fires caused by dangerous installations that are required to produce plots of illegally grown pot.
“Virtually all illegal plantations are fire risks,” city authorities affirmed, citing a report saying that a quarter of fires in Dutch urban areas are connected to the lighting and electrics of illegal cannabis grow plots.
Depla declares that under the current laws there are no controls in place to establish health and safety checks. In addition, he says citizens who unknowingly rent out their houses to tenants that grow cannabis are prosecuted and receive a criminal record right alongside the tenant if they’re caught, which is why these types of local initiatives are imperative.
While the need to amend the current policies regarding cannabis cultivation can be viewed as necessary, given the range of local needs, nationwide initiatives are not always the solution. And although British campaigners say it will be hard to make these types of changes, they are encouraged by recent indications.
Regulating the cultivation of cannabis on a local basis may not bring an end to criminals producing a supply of their own, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
Stay tuned to Seedsman’s Blog for any updates regarding this issue.
By Erik G.