Some remarkable recent political and social events in The Netherlands may be the first steps to a European system of legal commercial cannabis cultivation similar to the USA model. If current Dutch politics continue to progress in the right direction then an alliance of the Dutch Democratic D66 party and the right-wing VNL party could create a majority vote in favour of legal commercial-scale cannabis cultivation. It could be the first step in the birth of a European cannabis revolution which may end up closely following the USA legal cannabis model.
Its not yet a done deal, though the leaders of the D66 and VNL parties have already met and agreed in principle. Together that would represent a (small) majority vote in the Dutch House of Representatives along with the PVDA, SP, Groenlinks, Denk, PvdB, 50Plus and independents. The PVDA have recently changed their political position in order to support the proposals. The multi-party politics are not easy to follow, but for anyone interested there is a detailed review of the emerging political cannabis majority here in Leafly online, courtesy of veteran cannabis campaigner Derrick Bergman. For many years the coffee shops have been allowed to sell cannabis to adult consumers and tourists, yet the people that grow the vast quantities of cannabis which supply the coffeeshops do so illegally and tax-free in a completely unregulated black market system. Its chaotic and an update to the law has been needed for decades. At last the Dutch politicians finally seem to have decided to do something about it.
The new proposals, designed by the D66 politicians, will end the impractical 500g limit on the amount of cannabis a coffeeshop is allowed to stock. This creates a ridiculous system where coffee shops have to arrange regular visits by cannabis couriers to ensure the coffeeshops don't run out of cannabis, yet don't exceed their 500g on-site limit. The new proposals will also, for the first time, allow cannabis production on a commercial scale in Holland. If it happens it will be a bold and pioneering move which will put the Dutch on a par with Colorado and the rest of the legal US states. It will also be a powerful, and long over-due, demonstration of progressive politics which will have inevitable ripple effects across the rest of Europe. Many Europeans feel that delaying regulated commercial cannabis production only benefits the black-marketeers who rely on political inaction to retain their tax-free monopoly on an industry worth €billions.
However, the proposals have upset some Dutch cannabis campaigners by not making legal allowance for people growing cannabis plants for non-commercial and non-profit use. Thats where the Tree Of Life Amsterdam Cannabis Social Club has been active, they are aiming to grow cannabis plants for the exclusive use of adult members with full permission of the Dutch Ministry of Public Health and local authorities. Whats more, they already have active support from the Mayor and Police who are keen to see black market cannabis growing replaced by responsible non-profit cultivation. The Amsterdam CSC is fast growing. So when the club open their grow facilities and start growing, membership will be approaching 500 adults and it will be quite a substantial operation to supply such large numbers.
Rosaria Ricci is President of the Amsterdam Cannabis Social Club (‘CSC’). It’s a non-profit-making organisation with a focus on ethical and organic, high quality cannabis growing. The Amsterdam cannabis social club has already got the backing from the Amsterdam Mayor, they make the following comment on their Facebook page: “The Cannabis Social Club Amsterdam is working on a pioneering research project on legal controlled growing. That will happen under a special licence. The Municipality and the Mayor of Amsterdam approve the project and support it actively.”
Rosaria made the following comments about the future legal grow operation planned for the Amsterdam CSC: “Our achievements are the result of continuous, tenacious, dedicated efforts. What differentiates us from other Cannabis Social Clubs abroad is that we don’t accept to operate within a grey legal area. We have to finance the project and pay the rent on our grow premises ourselves. But still, we couldn’t manage it without the help of the Mayor.”
“Our main goals are:
1. To set up a grow facility to grow cannabis organically and monitor the growing process to achieve the highest quality standards.
2. To create scientific information not only about the chemical composition, but also about the effects and the personal medical experiences of the consumers.
3. To build a system of constant evaluation and improvement based on the feedback and on the scientific cultivation and analytical methods we will apply.”
Rosaria concluded her summary of the Amsterdam CSC plans. “After lots of preparatory work we are now very close to applying for a licence in the form of an exemption from the Dutch Opium Law. We can apply for that licence because we have developed a solid plan for scientific research about the effects of controlled growing on our members.”
European Police forces will have noted that regulation of the US cannabis industry shut down the bulk of black market cannabis farmers almost overnight, something that decades of prohibition failed to achieve. So perhaps it is no surprise that the Dutch Police are keen to support the Amsterdam CSC, they can’t lose.
If the Amsterdam Cannabis Social Club can successfully pioneer responsible cannabis production in Northern Europe then many others will eventually follow. It will be a model of non-profit cannabis production by adults, for adults. Could Europe be about to make some real progress on legal cannabis cultivation both for-profit and non-profit cultivation? 2017 could be the year to watch.
p.s. The Amsterdam Cannabis Social Club kindly asks any Dutch residents to complete their online survey which will help their future activity planning. The Amsterdam CSC is actively recruiting adult members now, anyone interested in joining should contact them here.