Dutch Extends Trial Of Legal Cannabis To Eight New Cities


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Dutch Extends Trial Of Legal Cannabis To Eight New Cities
Dutch Extends Trial Of Legal Cannabis To Eight New Cities

Updated / Monday, 17 Jun 2024 10:34

Authorities in the Netherlands have extended a trial which aims to curb criminality and social problems (stock pic)

An experiment enabling cannabis smokers in the Netherlands to light up legally has been expanded to eight new cities, as authorities extend a trial that aims to curb criminality and social problems.

A widespread misconception abroad is that cannabis is already legal in the Netherlands – home to the world-famous coffee shops (which sell cannabis) and seen as a huge draw for cannabis smokers.

But in fact, the drug exists in a legal grey area, which authorities seek to stamp out with the experiment that started last year in the cities of Breda and Tilburg and expanded today to eight other towns.

The consumption of small quantities of cannabis is technically illegal but police choose not to enforce the law as part of a so-called “tolerance” policy in place since the 1970s.

However, the production of cannabis and supply to coffee shops is both illegal and not tolerated, meaning producers and coffee shop owners have to operate in the shadows.

In the Netherlands, the production of cannabis and supply to coffee shops is illegal

This has led to gangs getting involved, with a related rise in petty crime and anti-social behaviour that local officials hope to stop with the legal cannabis experiment.

In cities such as Maastricht in the east and Groningen in the northern Netherlands, closely regulated cannabis will become available, allowing consumers and sellers to be sure of its quality and origins.

Smokers are guaranteed a high-quality product, whereas before it was impossible to know where the cannabis came from – or whether it had been altered.

The Dutch move comes amid a general trend of decriminalising the use of cannabis around the world, with recent moves in Germany, Switzerland and the United States.

In April, Germany became the biggest European Union country to legalise recreational cannabis.

Under the first step in the much-debated new German law, adults over the age of 18 can carry 25 grams of dried cannabis and cultivate up to three marijuana plants at home.

In the Netherlands, one uncertainty hanging over the cannabis policy is the Geert Wilders factor after the far-right leader won elections in November.

His PVV Freedom Party wants to scrap the “tolerance” policy for good, close coffee shops and push for a “drug-free Netherlands”.

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