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Legal cannabis farms could save Amsterdam coffeeshops, lawyer says

DutchAmsterdam.nl — “When I hear about the high-level discussion regarding the legalization of the ‘back door’, I do not understand why the city wants to close 26 coffeeshops,” says Maurice Veldman, lawyer for the 26 coffeeshops targeted by the city of Amsterdam for closure.

Veldman is referring to a suggestion by PVDA, a social-democratic political party in the Netherlands, to set up a number of legal, controlled cannabis farms in order to legally supply coffeeshops.

Currently Holland’s coffeeshops are legally allowed to sell soft drugs, even while growing, supplying and buying commercial quantities of those products remains illegal. In the Netherlands this situation is referred to as ‘legal front door; illegal back door.’

The approach has resulted in criminal gangs taking over supply chains, and it is this criminal connection that Amsterdam city planners refer to in planning the closure of a number of coffeeshops in the city’s Red Light District.

Veldman says the coffeeshops would like nothing better than to purchase their wares legally instead of via the ‘back door.’

Amsterdam daily Het Parool quotes him as saying, “It is the coffeeshops that draw most of the tourists and supply a product that it is demand. Then it won’t do that the City takes a ‘long strides get us home fast’ approach to quickly close these coffeeshops.”

“The reason given is that the coffeeshops are crimogene, that they attract criminality,” Veldman says. “But that is only true if the supply of drugs to those coffeeshops remains illegal. If these plans will truly be carried out within five years all arguments the city uses to insist on closures will be off the table.”

The Future of Holland’s Drug Policy

However, the PVDA commission that studies the future of the Netherlands’ drug policy, says its suggestion was only one of several options. The commission, headed by Senate member Pauline Meurs, this summer will present its official advice.

Mayors from around the Netherlands recently met for a ‘Weed Top’ — a conference at which they discussed possible approaches to dealing with issues surrounding Holland’s coffeeshops. At the conference the mayors make clear they advocate a change in approach to the current back door policy.

“It seems obvious that the cultivation should occur centrally,” says PVDA commission member Lisa Bouwmeester, stating that allowing each municipality its own ‘herb garden’ would be difficult to control. Hence the suggestion of ‘five or so large, legal weed farms,’ where cannabis would be produced under government supervision.

Bouwmeester refers to an existing, legal weed farm in Veendam where medicinal cannabis is grown under a mandate of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The farm produces about 100 kilo a year, for use in pills sold at pharmacies as a prescription drug.

Any suggestion the commission will make in its official report can only be acted upon in the long run, since the partners in the Netherlands’ current coalition government have agreed not to change existing drug policies during their reign.

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Last updated CET (Central European Time)

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