Justice min.: Human rights study no reason to chance cannabis regulation policy

Ard van der Steur (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)Ard van der Steur (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

A recent study by Radboud University Nijmegen that concluded that regulating cannabis cultivation could improve human rights is no reason for the Netherlands to change its policy on marijuana, Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice said in response to questions from the D66, NU.nl reports.

According to the study, human rights may oblige the government to allow regulated cannabis cultivation and trafficking as this could prevent violent crime generally associated with the illegal trade,such as murder and accident. The researchers state that protecting human rights in this way weighs heavier than the United Nations conventions that prohibit cannabis cultivation and trafficking.

But according to Van der Steur, there are some snags in this study. He argues that it can not be conclusively stated that regulating cannabis cultivation and trade will decrease violent crime. And regulation is not consistent with the Dutch government's policy of discouraging cannabis use among young people. He also adds that a parliamentary majority is against regulation.

Van der Steur's answers did not satisfy the PvdA, SP and D66. "The minister comes with his own negative interpretation on the study", D66 MP Vera Berkgamp said to NU.nl.

"The government can no longer hide behind the argument that regulation is not allowed because of international treaties", SP parliamentarian Nine Kooiman said. According to her, the current policy - the sale of cannabis is tolerated, but supplying the coffeeshops is illegal - only facilitates criminal behavior. "The minister creates crooks. Coffeeshop owners are forced to do business with criminal growers. At the very least offer coffeeshops the chance to legally come by their weed."

The SP, PvdA and D66 support a number of municipalities' call to allow experiments with regulated cannabis cultivation and trade. A recent vote at a meeting of the Association of Dutch Municipalities showed that the vast majority of municipalities in the Netherlands support such experiments.