Dutch MPs have approved a new law that allows the cultivation of cannabis in the Netherlands by 77 votes for and 72 against. The initiative was presented by Vera Bergkamp (Democrats 66), but the bill still has to be approved in the upper house, known as the First Chamber. Everything points at it being implemented soon – the Dutch citizens had an appointment with the ballot box on 15th March.
Jesse Klaver has catapulted his party GroenLinks, the Dutch Greens, to the 14 seats in these elections. With 19.3% of votes, the GL has become the main party of Amsterdam. Its program includes initiatives such as regularisation of hard drug use and the total legalisation of cannabis.
A narrow majority of the lower house voted in favour of the law that would extend tolerance to growers. It faced harsh opposition, however, from the Popular Party of the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Freedom and Democracy and Christian Democratic Appeal.
Advocates argue that this measure will have a strong impact on criminals that work as cannabis traffickers and will reduce the exports to other countries.
If the new law is passed, it will eliminate the legal vacuum that leaves the famous coffeeshops exposed when transporting cannabis to their stores.
The measure will empower the Government to grant cultivation licenses. Authorised people will be under supervision of the authorities responsible for monitoring the area occupied, the volume of crops and transportation. Currently, the cultivation of marijuana could mean up to 15 years in prison for the person responsible. “People will not have to do it in secret, in basements and lofts in the city, industrial warehouses or sheds and stables in the countryside,” Vera Bergkamp stated.
Buying small amounts of pot at so-called coffeeshops has long been tolerated in the Netherlands, but cultivating and selling the drug to the establishments has remained illegal. The police have always persecuted the cultivators; in 2015, more than 6,000 plantations were dismantled, according to the Dutch newspaper NRC. “Finally, the current policy, where marijuana can be sold but can not be cultivated or supplied, will end ” she concludes.