To the Queen of the Netherlands
Amsterdam, 23 december 2008
We have the exceptionnally great honour to present you herewith a series of stamps on the hemp plant. This series has been published, in excellent co-operation with TNT Post, on 23 december by the Vereniging voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod (VOC – Association for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition), a platform for co-operation among Dutch companies and organisations that aim at preserving the hemp plant for Dutch society.
The publication consists of thousand copies of each series. A limited amount of stamps will be put on sale in the international auction house Delcampe.
The companies and organisations that are represented on the stamps are promoting the hemp culture, within the framework of current legislation. Dutch companies have an excellent reputation as producers of high quality hemp seeds, with specific attention to the medicinal applications of this plant.
Hundreds of so-called “growshops” deliver growing material to tens of thousands of Dutch people who grow cannabis for their personal use.
The more than 1 million Dutch citizens who wish to enjoy cannabis regularly can do this at one of the Dutch coffeeshops. Others promote the the cultivation of hemp for hundreds of industrial purposes, or facilitate the knowledge about these applications for a large public. Various social organisations engage themselves for the complete emancipation of the hemp plant and its consumers, advoacting for a legal regulation of cultivation for personal use in collective plantations.
We believe that the Netherlands should be proud on the knowledge and experience with the cultivation of hemp that has been built up in this country during the past centuries. Hemp has played an important role in Dutch history, among others in the shipping industry, and this could be the case in the future as well.
The crop has many possibilities to serve as a sustainable alternative for products that are based on non-renewable ressources such as oil and wood, in among others construction, energy supply, as well as in the food, textile and paper industry.
Thanks to the relatively liberal policies concerning cannabis, also known as “gedoogbeleid”, in the past years lots of knowledge has been gathered concerning the “psycho-active” use of this plant. It should be noted that the heavy criticism from abroad that the Netherlands was faced with at the beginning of this period has died out in recent years.
European figures show that the consumption of cannabis in the Netherlands, among minors and adults, in spite of the fact that the product is realtively easy to obtain, is less high than in our neighbouring countries, where there are no coffeeshops. Also the use of heavier drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, seem to be a lesser problem in the Netherlands than in many countries in- and outside Europe. The “gedoogbeleid” has been recognised as one of the main causes of this phenomenon.
The “gedoogbeleid” also has a certain number of negative aspects. Possession and sale of quantities for personal use are tolerated, but cultivation and delivery to the coffeeshop is still illegal. For that reason, certain forms of criminality and social nuisance are created that do not have anything to do with hemp or cannabis as such, but are the result of incoherent and contradictory policy that is based on the prohibition of cannabis. The misunderstanding that has risen because of this has confused the political discussion, above all on the national level.
In an effort to produce some clarity in this matter we have organised on December 1st and 2nd 2008 the Cannabis Tribunal in international press centre Nieuwspoort in The Hague. Moderated by former speaker of the Parliament Frans Weisglas and in the presence of a “court” that was created for this occasion, some debates have taken place on the proposition: “Cannabis prohibition has more negative than positive effects”. Prior to the tribunal we had published a list of 18 negative effects of cannabis prohibition, inviting all members of the Dutch Parliament to come to the Tribunal and prove the contrary to this statement. Finally only one political party accepted the challenge: the Christian-Democrat Appeal, CDA, which is in favour of closing all coffeeshops in the Netherlands.
The court, chaired by Dr. Hendrik Kaptein, law philosopher of the Leiden University, made a clear judgement. In front of an audience of scientists, former policemen and other involved citizens, the court qualified the arguments of CDA-spokeswoman Cisca Joldersma as ‘fallacies’ and ‘absolutely worthless’, as they were exclusively based on normative opinions.
The court could not find any argument against the plea for legalisation of the cannabis market proposed by Hans van Duijn, former president of the Dutch Police Association. According to Van Duijn, the CDA due to the continuation of the ban on cannabis – is responsible for 50% of the criminality in the Netherlands, and every year, one and a half billion euro of tax money is wasted on a useless war on drugs. No attempt to contradict either argument was made by Joldersma.
We are severely worried by the current impotence of the Dutch parliament and government to develop a coherent and effective cannabis policy. Not only because we believ that cannabis prohibition harms the general interest. We also refer to the troublesome situation in many Dutch municipalities that are located close by or at the borders. For years, local authorities in these towns insist on the introduction of a clear legal framework for the functioning of coffeeshops, mostly related with the cultivation of cannabis. The national government cannot continue to ignore this call.
For all these reasons, Your Majesty, we are deeply concerned and wish to recommend us to your Royal care.
It would also be a particular great honour if you would wish to pay a visit to one of the places in the Netherlands where the positive applications of the hemp plant are best represented: the [Hash
Marihuana & Hemp Museum->http://www.hashmuseum.com/] in Amsterdam. We are more than ready to give you more explanations, also on the content of this letter.
Henk van Dalen
Djon Janssen, Roger Willemsen
JaJa Import en Export bv
Etienne en Pascal van de Rakt
ENCOD – European Coalition For
Just and Effective Drug Policies