Small cannabis home growers will not be prosecuted in the Netherlands. The judicial policy will now only aim the ending of the activities. Plants and equipment will be destroyed or confiscated, so that continued growing at that address will be impossible. The man-power that will free up at the police and justice departments will be employed to track down large-scaled commercial cannabis production.
Despite the prohibition in the Opium law, despite the European rules and international agreements, the trade of small amounts of weed or hash is possible in the Netherlands without any risk for sanctions. Those opposed, like the frontmen of the CDA party in parliament, are actually in favour of a total ban on coffeeshops. But, because there are no clauses on this in the coalition agreement, it has not become a general policy of our current government. Meanwhile our policy of tolerance is already thirty years old. It has helped distinguish between harddrugs and softdrugs markets and less drug deaths than in countries where this distinction is not made.
So much for the positive side of the policy of tolerance. At the same time it has led to an unacceptable increase of public disturbance, especially in border municipalities. Mayor Leers (CDA) of Maastricht has been ringing the alarmbells over the case for two years now. He and his colleagues from other cities in the south of the Netherlands have been confronted with an increase of serious crime related to large-scaled cannabisproduction, that supplies the tolerated coffeeshops via the 'backdoor'. Local authorities regularly ask attention for this problem, but every time it appears that further liberalisation of the softdrugs policy is unfeasible because of the international context.
In short, whether supporters of the liberalisaton of the policy or not, the ministers can do nothing but to stay flexible. The new attitude towards small home growers is yet another tolerating pratice. More repression is counter-productive, legalisation is unfeasible. A pragmatic reality is what remains.
Vernietigen en gedogen, NRC Handelsblad (NL)
Kleine wietteler niet vervolgd, NRC Handelsblad (NL)