Are The Netherlands ready for the next step in their cannabis policy?
Amsterdam, 17 June 2013
Cannabis is on the rise internationally like never before. The Dutch Cannabis Movement, represented by the VOC, is increasingly a movement about human rights as well as a movement to legalize cannabis. The free use of cannabis in the Netherlands has been under political pressure for several years. The Dutch cannabis users are now standing up for their rights. In Europe and North/South America, many countries are engaged in the normalization of Cannabis.
The Dutch Cannabis Cannabis Liberation Movement was shown at their best on June 16 2013 in the Westerpark in Amsterdam . The Cannabis Liberation Day festival, which started five years ago, has developed into the largest non-alcoholic family festival in Amsterdam. Around 8000 visitors shared in the revelry at this free-admission celebration of cannabis culture. The day was marked by a cozy, relaxed festival atmosphere. The visitors were a mix of yound and old, most were from Holland but many came from outside to celebrate and share in the fun..
In addition to the live music stage there was a film tent showing pro-legalization Cannabis movies. There were also lots of food stalls alongside stalls of different companies in the cannabis business. European cannabis activist organizations were also well represented at the event.
Dutch Passion was the proud sponsor of the festival. "We hope to have made a contribution to the further acceptance of cannabis in the Netherlands." Says Henk Van Dalen, founder and owner of Dutch Passion.
Just before the headline musical act "Lucky Fons the Third", Henk Van Dalen gave an inspiring speech. The crowd reacted enthusiastically to his call that it is time for the Netherlands to regain their position as a political role model for the rest of the world. After the speech, the visitors were clearly impressed, and it took a while before the visitors went back to what they came for, namely celebration of cannabis.
The Full Speech by Henk Van Dalen:
“Good evening everyone,
First of all I would like to wholeheartedly thank the VOC for organizing this fifth Cannabis Liberation Day. It's good, to see the event becoming more popular and getting increased support. And it's necessary.
It is time to put an end to the criminalization of 600,000 Dutch Citizens.
It's time for the legalization of cannabis.
My company, Dutch Passion, sells cannabis seeds in The Netherlands and abroad for home growers. We supply cannabis seeds to about 3000 growshops, mainly within the European Union. I emphasize that Dutch Passion does not produce cannabis seeds, that is prohibited in the Netherlands. My company can only purchase and sell cannabis seeds from exclusive breeders.We have done this since the creation of Dutch Passion in 1987, for over 25 years. We are very succesfull in that and I'm proud of it.
What about Cannabis in todays world?
When I started my company, in the 80s, The Netherlands was what we called a model political country. Not only in terms of our drug policy; abortion and euthanasia were also themes in which the Netherlands took the lead. The Netherlands showed the lead. That is no more. In the Netherlands, the clock has been turned back. Cannabis has moved from the Health department to the Justice department. Cannabis has been criminalized.
Meanwhile, Dutch weed in the past 30 years has created an international Cannabis Revolution. In almost all European countries Cannabis use is tolerated.
In Europe there are about 3000 growshops, 200 in the Netherlands. In Spain and Belgium Cannabis Social Clubs have been established in recent years. The basic principle is that everyone can grow a Cannabis plant for personal use. In Barcelona there are now 200 Social Clubs. In France and Italy the first Cannabis Social Clubs are also expected to come soon.
Many European countries now have the medicinal use of cannabis legalized.
Outside Europe we also find important developments too.
In the cradle of the "War on Drugs", the United States, there is the start of a realisation that this war leads mainly to overcrowded prisons, millions of broken families and unaffordably high police costs.
A majority of the adult population in the U.S. is in favour of the legalization of Cannabis.
In 19 U.S. states it is legal to sell medicinal cannabis and in three states it is also legal for recreational users. The more states that legalize, the less the federal government will be able to resist opposing legalization
The seriousness of the transition to legalization in the U.S. is also apparent from the fact that James Shiverly, a former chief executive of Microsoft, wants to invest $ 100 million in a "Starbucks-like" chain of Marijuana stores in those states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use, Washington, Main and Colorado.
In South and Central America important revolutions are taking place now, those countries want an end to the "War on Drugs" and develop their own drug-policies.
Australia has recently legalized cannabis for medical purposes.
In Morocco, a bill will soon be discussed for legal cannabis cultivation in the Rif-Mountains for industrial and medicinal purposes (This is the Law El Khayari, named after the Moroccan activist Chakib El Khayari who spoke at Cannabis Liberation Day last year).
The question is not whether this "Berlin Wall" will fall, but when and where ....!! And why not in the Netherlands? It is time that the Netherlands picks up the old role as a model country again.
We want the Netherlands to live up to the promise of the 70's and internationally show its teeth.
The benefits of legalizing cannabis are clear.
A legal cannabis and hemp industry, can bring the treasury a lot of money, important in these tough financial times. Consumers can finally get guaranteed quality or they can grow a cannabis plant for personal use. Objective information can finally be given. Thorough scientific research needs to begin into the many possibilities for psychoactive and industrial cannabis.
Judges, prosecutors and police can move on to deal with more important matters. It is also important that politics regains some of their lost credibility.
This challenge is for The Hague to deal with
Finally, my thanks to our Mayor Eberhardt van der Laan, who makes Amsterdam a place where every one, Dutch or from elsewhere, can enjoy Cannabis.
Long live Cannabis, Long live Cannabis Liberation Day!”