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Dutch MPs vote to approve cannabis cultivation for first time

Dutch MPs vote to legalize cannabis farming Dutch MPs vote to approve cannabis cultivation for first time
Cris De Lacerda | 21 Febrero, 2017, 23:45

The Dutch lower house of parliament on Tuesday barely passed a bill to decriminalize cultivation of marijuana in the Netherlands, but its slim approval might signal that the proposal is in for a steeper hill to climb in the senate.

Cannabis in the Netherlands is not strictly speaking legal as that would put the country in violation of several worldwide treaties, but it is officially tolerated.

Marijuana is legal to sell in Dutch "coffee shops" with a license to sell it, but the actual production of supply is still illegal.

The bill passed the lower house by a margin of only five votes, 77-72, UPI reported and faces an uphill battle to pass in the senate.

That hasn't stopped coffee shops flourishing since the liberalization of drug laws in the 1970s, and becoming a major tourist drawcard, particularly in Amsterdam, where tourists often visit the cafes to light up a joint.

Dutch MPs vote to legalize cannabis farming

The proposed law, which also got support from MPs of the right-wing VLN party, would enable professional growers who meet certain conditions to avoid criminal prosecution.

Despite that uncertainty, weed sellers welcomed the vote. However, the bill still has to be approved in the upper house, known as the First Chamber, where it is not clear if it can find a majority.

"It is good news for the coffee shop industry because it will finally - if it passes the First Chamber - put an end to a lot of stuff we can't organize in a normal and transparent way", Joachim Helms, chairman of the Coffee Shop Union, told the Associated Press news agency.

Cannabis is illegal in most parts of the world, although this has been slowly changing in the last few years. In Spain, the number of "cannabis clubs" in which private members can smoke and buy pot has risen dramatically since 2010.