Seemingly everyday (even when there might be some concerning news), cannabis policy is moving forward around the globe.
On Tuesday, the Dutch lower house of parliament voted to open up their cannabis laws. This follows on the heels of news that Dutch medical marijuana exports to Germany will increase.
The Netherlands, long known as a global leader on leniency in drug policy, cannabis policy and cannabis culture specifically, seems to be making motions to finally regulate production of cannabis. Though lenient policies have previously allowed sales and possession of small amounts of cannabis for decades, production and transportation has remained prohibited, forcing “coffee shops” which dispense the substance to rely on the illegal market, and risking criminal consequences in its acquisition.
However, hurdles remain before the proposed policy could become law. The Senate must still also vote in approval, and currently there is no majority party there or support for the new legislation. This weeks vote comes in advance of a national election on March 15th, putting seats and votes in swing. Yet many of the country’s leaders remain in opposition.
According to Bloomberg political feelings are mixed:
“With just three weeks to go until general elections, 77 of the 150 lower-chamber lawmakers supported a bill put forward by the Democrats ’66 party to introduce government regulation of cannabis cultivation. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals did not support the legislation in The Hague Tuesday, though Labor, their coalition partner, backed the measure, which will now go to the Dutch upper house.
“‘Soft drugs are part of Dutch society, but the current system doesn’t work, and this bill will fix that”, Vera Bergkamp, the D66 lawmaker who introduced the bill, said during an earlier debate in parliament in The Hague. Her proposal aims to regulate the production and supply of marijuana through a closed system to so-called coffee shops that sell the drugs to customers.
“…The Association of Dutch Municipalities strongly advocates regulation, as the authorities in many cities have become fed up with problems caused by those frequenting coffee shops. They’ve moved to restrict the number of outlets and have imposed strict rules to keep nuisance to a minimum for residents. Recent shootings at coffee shops in Amsterdam and fires in places where weed is grown illegally have added force to the argument for further government intervention.”
A concern for public safety and a desire to legitimize community-supported business are universal reasons to bring cannabis out of the criminal market. As politicians finally catch on to popular sentiment, more bills formally legitimizing the cannabis industry are being introduced and debated throughout Europe and the world.
One place for certain to learn where the Netherlands and other countries are moving in the opening of cannabis markets is the International Cannabis Business Conference. Come be part of the future of the global cannabis market on April 10-12 in Berlin, Germany!