Coffee shops criticise plans to limit strength of cannabis joints

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Coffee shop owners have criticised plans by the government to limit the strength of legally permitted cannabis as unworkable.

De Volkskrant has learned that the ministerial council will consider a proposal this week to reclassify cannabis products containing more than 15% of the chemical THC as hard drugs, which are illegal.

The move is in response to a commission report on cannabis which concluded that THC in larger quantities created an unacceptably high risk of addiction and psychosis.

But owners of cannabis cafés said the measure would be impossible to implement in practice. “The government can’t impose regulations on us that we can’t carry out,” Marc Josemans, of the National Association of Coffee Shop Owners, told De Volkskrant.

Josemans, who runs a coffee shop in Maastricht, said he was in favour of limiting the strength of commercially sold cannabis, but establishments needed to be given more control over incoming trade.

The laws surrounding cannabis in the Netherlands are mired in ambiguity. Wholesale and cultivation are outlawed, leaving coffee shop owners in a legal limbo where they can sell the drug but are officially barred from buying it.

A large proportion of the cannabis cultivated in the country is believed to have a THC content of above 15%, which would make it a hard drug under the proposed new classification.

Recently the government has tightened its stance on drug use, reclassifying the so-called ‘party drug’ GHB as a hard drug and banning foreigners from coffee shops in a crackdown on ‘drugs tourism’.

Next year justice and security minister Ivo Opstelten intends to introduce a new regulatory regime, known as the ‘weed pass’, which would require cannabis cafes to become members-only clubs.

Nine Kooiman, an MP with the Socialist Party (SP), called the reclassification of cannabis “stupid and dangerous”, adding: “This will criminalise a large proportion of users. It is much better for public health to regulate and control usage.”

Coskun Coruz, of the Christian Democrats (CDA), who are in the coalition government, said the plan was “a step in the right direction”.

“The zero option for soft drugs and coffee shops is a long cherished aim of the CDA,” he said.

Source: De Volkskrant: Sterke nederwiet wordt verboden harddrug
Photo by Jocelyn Aubert

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