Cannabis cultivation in Netherlands far more extensive than thought

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Dutch police inspect a cannabis plantation in a house (Stock Photo: Politie). Dutch police inspect a cannabis plantation in a house (Stock Photo: Politie)

Illegal cannabis cultivation in the Netherlands is far larger than previously thought, Statistics Netherlands said in a revision of old economic figures. According to the stats office, many more illegal weed growers remain below the police radar than previously assumed.

In 2015 the stats office assumed that 40 percent of illegal cannabis cultivators were caught by the police. But new information from the National Police indicate that its more realistic to assume that around 20 percent of weed growers are caught. 

This also means that the money in the illegal weed sector is higher than previously thought. According to Statistics Netherlands, around 1.5 billion euros should be added to the 2015 estimate of the total contribution of illegal activities to the economy. The stats office increased the scale of this illegal economy to 4.8 billion euros. 

In this revision, Statistics Netherlands reviewed all kinds of economic data from 2015. The revised figures also show that the total economy in the Netherlands is 1 percent higher than previously thought. This could have consequences for the money the Netherlands has to pay to the European Union, as the amount EU countries pay for their membership is calculated based on this type of economic data, according to NU.nl

The Netherlands may face a substantial additional levy from Brussels. The previous major revision a few years ago resulted in the Netherlands paying the EU an additional 643 million euros. 

The consequences of these revised figures will only become clear later this year. At the end of June Statistics Netherlands will release revised figures for a number of other years. 

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