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Dutch cannabis policy at crossroads

Compliance with Dutch Cannabis Regulation

Once the Dutch cannabis policy was famous: too liberal, unacceptable, condemned by many. But now the signs are different. Even countries like the US and Belgium have more liberal policies to allow consumption and growing of hemp. The Dutch drugs policy is at crossroads. The tough political stance has deteriorated the cannabis policy so much that even the Dutch Courts do not support the government policy any more. Coffeeshop owners (who are allowed to do legitimate sales of cannabis in the Netherlands and keep a stash) and even growers are left off the hook. The Dutch Secretary of State responsible for this tough approach has stepped down for other reasons. So, the cannabis community in the Netherlands has high hopes that new policy will make life easier for growing cannabis and selling in to consumers.
Cannabis Colarado

Netherlands Marijuana law outdated

In an attempt to backup the tough policy the Dutch government asked a Dutch University to prepare a report on Dutch softdrugs policy in view of international treaties. The university report submits that all modalities for cannabis sales re in fact contravening international law. Also recent initiatives for cannabis social clubs are scrutinized: “In view of the various prosecution obligations ensuing from the UN Drugs Conventions and European law with respect to, in principle, serious criminal of-fences, it is hard to defend that criminal policy-based non-prosecution (penal tolerance) of cannabis cultivation for the supply of coffee shops is legally permissible on the basis of the expediency principle (. . .).”

Cannabis Social Clubs

The obligations to prosecute for joint cultivation and consumption in Cannabis Social Clubs, however, is less clear-cut, according to the report. Although such cultivation cannot be equated with cultivation for private personal use, the connection is such that states are at liberty to refrain from prosecution based on expediency considerations. The conclusion of the researchers is that permitting cannabis cultivation for the supply of coffee shops cannot be implemented on the grounds of the legal arguments provided by Dutch municipalities with due observance of the UN Drugs Conventions and the EU legal instruments.

Report on cannabis brings no new Dutch Cannabis Law

The report amongst others concludes: ”The various regulating modalities in the final part of the evaluation include regulated legalization (Uruguay and the US federal states Colorado and Washington), joint cultivation in Cannabis Social Clubs (Belgium, Spain and Uruguay), cannabis cultivation by non-profit growers, cannabis cultivation by licensed commercial parties, and cannabis cultivation for recreational use under the veil of medical or scientific programmes. The conclusion with respect to all these modalities for cannabis  is that the fight-against-drugs framework under international law leaves no room for legalization, decriminalization policy-based tolerance and/or any other regulating approaches. Only with respect to Cannabis Social Clubs, however, would a state less easily be in conflict with the obligations pursuant the UN Drugs Conventions and European law whenever that state would in fact just leave those Clubs untouched (thus without applying regulating measures or any explicit policy thereto).

Source: International law and cannabis, 2014, Ministry of Justice, the Netherlands, ISBN: 9789013124286

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