Dutch parliament adopts weed cultivation law; still has to go through Senate

Tweede_kamer Sisyfus Wikimedia commons

On Tuesday the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, voted in a legislative proposal by the D66 that makes the cultivation and transportation of cannabis in hashish legal under strict conditions. Now it has to pass through the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, though it is uncertain whether the bill will make it.

Five parties voted against the bill in the Tweede Kamer on Tuesday, according to the Volkskrant. They are the VVD, CDA, SGP and ChristenUnie. With one MP of the ChristenUnie not present, that brought 72 votes against the bill, against 77 for. But while this group of parties only just don't have a majority in the Tweede Kamer, in the Eerste Kamer they have do - they hold 39 of the 75 seats in Senate. If the D66's bill was sent to the Eerste Kamer today, it would very likely be voted down.

But passing through the Tweede Kamer is still a very important step. If nothing else, it is a sign that this long-ongoing movement in society now gained real political momentum. As D66 parliamentarian Vera Bergkamp pointed out after the vote - this issue has been under discussion for some 40 years, and now for the first time a parliamentary majority took concrete steps.

According to the Volkskrant, the parties that voted for the law reflect a very wide group of society. From left-wing PvdA, SP and GroenLinks to the elderly in 50Plus. Law-and-order party VNL, DENK MP's, animal party PvdD and stand alones Roland van Vliet, Johan Houwers, Jacques Monasch and Norbert Klein all supported the bill. And of course the social liberals in the D66. 

Another hopeful sign for those who support the regulated cultivation of cannabis, is the split running through current ruling party VVD. In the Tweede Kamer the largest party voted against the bill on Tuesday. And former Justice Ministers Ivo Opstelten and Ard van der Steur, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and VVD spokesperson Foort van Oosten are all vehemently against the law. But at the VVD congress in November an amendment was adopted that can change the party's course dramatically. The amendment stated that "the entire domain of and surrounding soft drugs should be rearranged". According to the newspaper, the broad movement within the VVD for "smarter regulation" is unmistakable.