Legal cannabis cultivation would cut violent crime: report

Legalizing cannabis cultivation and trade could reduce violent crime surrounding the current illegal cultivation and could therefore arguably protect human rights, according to a study done on behalf of 27 Dutch municipalities. Human rights outweigh the UN drug conventions that prohibit cannabis cultivation and trade.

This study was done by Piet Hein van Kempen, professor of criminal law and procedure, and lecturer Masha Fedorova of the Radboud University on behalf of Dutch municipalities fighting for regulated cannabis cultivation, the Volkskrant reports.

According to the municipalities, violent crimes associated with illegal cannabis cultivation and trafficking are getting out of hand. In addition to murders, assaults and corruption, the illegal cultivation also leads to fires, legionella contamination, stink and other nuisance in residential areas and health risk for users because quality can not be guaranteed. Regulating the cultivation and trade will ensure quality, provide control of the supply chain, reduce crime and protect the health of consumers and others involved in the supply, the municipalities believe.

The researchers believe that a well justified argument can therefore be made that regulating cannabis cultivation can be seen as a "positive obligation to protect human rights", according to the newspaper. Human rights that can be protected include the right to health, the right to life and the right against inhuman treatment. In principle the government can decide to regulate cannabis cultivation based on these rights, as long as other countries do not suffer from it.

That means that there may be no cannabis exports and the system of cultivation, exports and consumption must be closed and tightly controlled. The authorities must also continue to discourage the use of cannabis, according to those same human rights, as using it could be harmful to health. The same rules applies to all drugs and alcohol.

The researchers emphasize that they are not concluding that legalizing cannabis cultivation is better than the current tolerance policy in the Netherlands - in which you are allowed to smoke cannabis, but the cultivation and trade is mostly illegal. They are only concluding that politicians in The Hague can no longer use "legalization is simply not allowed" as a counter-argument.

The municipalities advocating for regulated cannabis cultivation - over 50 joined the original trio of Utrecht, Eindhoven and Heerlen - are happy with the study's conclusions. "This report makes it possible for us to take the step we want to take so badly" Victor Everhardt, D66 alderman of Public Health in Utrecht, said to the Volkskrant. According to him, legalizing cannabis cultivation will give municipalities "view on what is unseen". "We want to find out whether legalization works and whether it is an improvement on the current system. Cannabis is not a harmless substance. We will continue to discourage its use. But the reality is: people do it anyway. So how can you as  municipality control and organize the cannabis policy? All logic says we want to monitor what is happening." he said.