Outgoing Groningen mayor Peter den Oudsten has officially signed the city up for a trial scheme decriminalising the growing of marijuana.
Translation by Thomas Ansell
The municipality of Groningen is one of 19 across the Netherlands to sign up for the four-year-long experiment, which will make it legal to cultivate marijuana under certain conditions. Dagblad van het Noorden reports that Groningen is the only large city that has expressed an interest in taking part, and other participating northern municipalities include Oldambt (Winschoten) and Midden-Groningen (Hoogezand).
While the Netherlands is famous around the world for legal access to weed, currently, Dutch drug law forbids growing more than five plants, and only if they are for personal use, which means that coffee shop owners have to source their marijuana from the illegal marketplace. Illegal marijuana groweries are shut down on a regular basis across the north, but under the experiment, shop owners will be able to source through ten selected “city growers”.
Thanks to Mayor Den Oudsten’s decision, Groningen is likely to be selected by Minister of Justice and Security Ferdinand Grapperhaus as one of the eight to ten municipalities in the “Experiment to Close the Coffeeshop Supply Chain”. Whilst the twelve coffee shop owners in Groningen have expressed reservations about the experiment – namely potential damage claims and a possible revival of illegal street sales of marijuana if state farmers cut quality or variety – Mayor Den Oudsten has no objections to the trial.
These risks have tempered the enthusiasm of the other “big 5” cities in the Netherlands – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht, and Eindhoven – all of whom have made their concerns clear to Minister Grapperhaus. Other potential issues raised by the big cities were possible legal challenges, extra costs required for preparation, regulation and enforcement, and uncertainty about what would happen once the four-year-long experiment winds down.