While the United States face a wave of cannabis legalisation, Dutch cannabis lovers are getting more and more constrained by the government.
VICE-journalist Thijs Roes describes (in Dutch) some of the laws that are currently in the making. Because it concerns long-term projects, there's been little media attention and not many people are aware of these developments - though once the laws will be enforced they'll have major consequences.
What rules are we talking about?
1) Zero-tolerance for participating in traffic after use of more than one substance.
Of course it’s not wise to drive under influence, everyone knows that. You still get behind the wheel? Then you might be punished. This new law is about the combined use of more than one substance. When caught, you risk up to 3 months in prison or a fine 8100 euros maximum. Because THC stays in the blood for a prolonged period of time, this rule is mainly hazardous for cannabis users. Even if you drink only one glass...
The law has already been approved, only the allowed concentrations have yet to be determined.
2) Cannabis with more than 15% THC is considered a hard drug.
The 15% limit is quite arbitrary and moreover, it’s quite difficult to measure, as not all buds of the same plant contain the same concentration of cannabinoids. In addition, this law completely overlooks the fact that the effect of cannabis is not only dependent on THC level, but rather on the interaction between different cannabinoids. (More on this can be read in another Dutch article of the same author.) Yet growing a cannabis plant with a higher THC concentration will soon fall in the same juridical category as setting up a GHB laboratory.
3) Growshop prohibition.
Producing drugs (including cannabis) is already illegal, but assisting in the production, for example by selling compost, light bulbs or lending your car, will soon be equally punishable. If an employee of a garden centre or smartshop has any 'reasonable suspicion' that their goods are going to be used for growing cannabis, then they’ll have a problem. The bill is still pending, but it’s already known that a majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives agree, so the law is surely coming.
In the meantime there has been a hearing in parliament in which the unfeasibility of the 15% THC-rule was discussed. Even if the law would be implemented it's unlikely it will be maintained by police and the judiciary.