Dutch cities: Legalize pot plantations to reduce crime

Dutch municipalities are renewing their efforts to end a nationwide ban on regulated cannabis cultivation. The Association of Dutch Municipalities is advocating for the introduction of a municipal permits system that gives the government control over the entire cannabis chain - sale, use and production.

This is according to the report on an eight month's long study done by an Association work group, consisting of seven mayors and an alderman, the Volkskrant reports. The newspaper calls this the local authorities' most serious attempt to get rid of the current tolerance policy, which states that cannabis may be sold and used in coffee shops, but the cultivation is illegal.

According to the work group, cannabis use is here to stay and the current tolerance policy leads to an "intolerable situation". "We experience major social problems as local governments." And focusing on closing down cannabis farms, is a losing battle, with not enough attention paid to public health and the quality of cannabis. "With tolerance the government provides criminals with plenty of space to sell their products. The cannabis industry is closely intertwined with organized crime, which is also active in ecstasy and trafficking."

The proposal is initially allow a number of municipalities to experiment with forms of legalized cultivation. These include so-called cannabis clubs, in which members grow and use cannabis for personal use.

The municipalities believe the most obvious solution to be a permit system - an entrepreneur can apply for a permit to cultivate cannabis from the municipality he lives in. He will be allowed to grow and sell cannabis under strict conditions, and after being screened for good behavior.

"It can not be allowed that layers of governments are talking with each other, while organized crime is profiting and public health is not protected enough. We call on all involved to be mainly pragmatic in finding solutions", the group writes.