Netherlands: Parliament Adopts Bill for Recreational Cannabis Cultivation

The Second Chamber of Netherland’s Parliament adopted a bill yesterday from Mrs.Vera Bergkamp, MP for the left-wing D66, with 77 votes to 72.

The bill would regulate the cultivation and processing of cannabis as well as the sale of products offered in the world famous Dutch coffeeshops. The governing VVD, along with the votes of CDA, PVV, ChristenUnie and SGP, were against the proposal, but their Social Democratic coalition partner voted with the opposition parties D66, PvdA, GroenLinks, 50Plus, Partij voor de Dieren and Kuzu/Öztürk.

The Netherlands can finally solve the so-called “backdoor problem.”

The “problem” is due to the currently tolerated status of the coffeeshops, which have not been operating 100% legally, but in a gray area. Cities can license coffeeshops despite the Opiumwet (National Narcotics Act) prohibition of any sales of cannabis except for medical purposes via pharmacies. That leads to the fact that licensed shops are taxed and not prosecuted for the sale of cannabis. These shops may store a maximum of 500 grams. Meanwhile, production, processing and wholesale of the goods are still prosecuted. The grass sold to consumers must fall from the sky – or just enter the shop through the back door when it comes to tax declaration.

In the Netherlands, observers see this decision as a breakthrough, even if the First Chamber — the Senate of the Netherlands — must agree before a state-regulated system could replace the backdoor system. The decision and future of the law, which provides detailed rules from cultivation to packaging of the final product will be postponed until the upcoming federal elections on March 15th.

Photo courtesy of Marco Galasso

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