Legislation on consumption and possession of drugs
Consumption of cannabis is legal, but in practice restricted to private places and coffeeshops. In over eighty Dutch cities local rules prohibit consumption of cannabis in public spaces
(outside). Possession of cannabis for personal use of up to 5 grams is a misdemeanor and is usually not prosecuted. Medicinal use of cannabis is legalized in a strict formal fashion. Patients need a prescription from their GP to purchase cannabis (grown legally by monopolist Bedrocan) at a limited number of pharmacies. A lot of GP’s are very hesitant to prescribe cannabis.
Cannabis Social Clubs
The city of Utrecht is trying to set up a Cannabis Social Club and has applied to the ministry of health for an exemption from the Opium Law in order to make this possible. The club will consist of no more than 100 members. In Amsterdam a CSC has sprung up at the grassroots level, hoping to become active in 2014. In the small southern city of Helmond there is the ‘stichting Grow Your Own Free Medicine’, that is concerned with all medicinal plants, not just cannabis. Unlike Belgium, there is no legal right for Dutch citizens to grow cannabis, not even one plant. Police guidelines state that growing of up to 5 plants will not be prosecuted if the owner is an adult and if he or she gives up the plants to the police. New guidelines contain a number of criteria like using artificial light or fertilizer to assess ‘professionalism’. This means you can be prosecuted as a professional commercial grower even with less than 5 plants.
User rooms have existed in the Netherlands since 1997. According to the latest available data (2010) there are now 37 user rooms in around 25 different cities. Most have restricted entry. There are worries about the accessibility of user rooms for foreigners, especially people from Eastern Europe.
Main political parties for the European Elections
CDA (Christen Democratisch Appèl) – Christian Democrats > European People’s Party
PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid) – Freedom Party
PvdA (Partij van de Arbeid) – Labour Party > Party of European Socialists
VVD (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie) – Liberal Party > Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
D66 (Democraten 66) – Liberal Democrats > Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
GroenLinks – Green Party > European Green Party
SP (Socialistische Partij) – Socialist Party > European United Left/Nordic Green Left
ChristenUnie-SGP – Christian Parties > European Christian Political Movement
Partij voor de Dieren – Party for the animals
50Plus – Party for the elderly
Piratenpartij – Pirate Party > European Pirate Party
What is the position of these parties on:
Drug Policy Reform
Parties that favor and promote drug policy reform are PvdA, D66, GroenLinks, SP, Partij voor de Dieren and Piratenpartij.
Harm Reduction, health-based approach on drugs
Harm reduction is supported by most political parties. The conservative parties have increasingly adopted a zero tolerance stance on drugs however. These include CDA, PVV, ChristenUnie/SGP and to a little lesser extent VVD.
Decriminalisation of cannabis and/or other drugs
Since cannabis has been decriminalized in 1976, most political parties support this concept. The exceptions are PVV, CDA and ChristenUnie/SGP; they favor prohibition and a total ban on cannabis (and all other illegal substances).
Cannabis Social Clubs
Most prominent supporter of the Cannabis Social Club concept is D66; the D66 city alderman of Utrecht has made the opening of a CSC in his city one of his political priorities. The idea is relatively new and alien to the Dutch public because of the (cannabis) coffeeshops that have been operating since the 1970’s. Left and left leaning parties PvdA, SP, GroenLinks, Partij voor de Dieren and Piratenpartij have no objections to CSC’s.
What are the two most important threats on the political and legal front?
Minister of justice Ivo Opstelten (in power since 2010) seems to be on a personal crusade against coffeeshops and cannabis consumers. He introduced the weedpass to ban foreign visitors from coffeeshops and a whole series of other repressive measures. A big threat is his law proposal to declare all cannabis with more than 15% thc hard drugs. This could be the end of any coffeeshop and will drive a lot of consumers to the illegal market. The other big threat is a new law aimed at growshops, banning pretty much anything that can be linked to cannabis production. A final worry is the relentless hunt for people who grow cannabis, even for personal use. People are thrown out of their house and are confronted with huge fines, tax assessments and electricity bills.
What is the most promising or positive development concerning drug policy?
On the local level the resistance against the repressive policy of the minister of justice has been growing recently. No less than 25 cities want to experiment with regulated cannabis production to supply the coffeeshops. Liberal party D66 is developing a law proposal to legalize cannabis, although there is no majority for it in Parliament at the moment. This might very well change after the next elections (2016) or after a breakdown of the government coalition between natural enemies VVD (Conservative Liberals) and PvdA (Labour Party). A recent poll showed 65% of Dutch people favor legalization of cannabis.
Encod contact in the Netherlands
Derrick Bergman (VOC): email@example.com