After rigorous screening only a limited number of coffeeshop entrepreneurs will receive a license, resulting in a further reduction of the number of cannabis coffeeshops in the Netherlands. According to the VNG commission’s chairman Bernt Schneiders, mayor of Haarlem, up to sixty percent of all Dutch coffeeshops will have to close. It is unclear if the remaining coffeeshops will be allowed to grow their own cannabis or have to buy it from a limited number of licensed growers.
A more important negative aspect of the VNG report: by restricting the number of coffeeshops even further, the 800,000 regular or occasional Dutch cannabis consumers will be deprived of their relatively easily accessible place of purchase. When this advice becomes policy, they will in effect be forced to turn to street dealers, with more crime and nuisance as a direct result.
The VNG seems to take a step forward, but it is on the wrong path. The report is a big step back compared to the ‘Joint Regulation’ manifesto, supported by sixty cities from Amsterdam to Maastricht, during the national government to regulate cannabis cultivation, precisely because of the crime and nuisance that is now associated with it.
The VOC refers again to the report by government institute RIVM, commissioned by the then Health Minister Ab Klink. This report includes a ranking of the various types of drugs according to their harm to the individual and society as a whole. Alcohol is at the third place in this ranking, directly behind crack and heroin, while cannabis is at the eleventh place.
Different from alcohol, the consumption of cannabis is not a source of crime; it is the production that is considered criminal by the government. In stark contrast to the tens of thousands of premature deaths caused by alcohol use and the hundreds of very young ‘coma boozers’, there is not a single recorded death in human history caused by the use of cannabis.
The English summary of the cannabis regulation plan has been embedded below.