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Call to legalise commercial cannabis crops March 14, 2005 expatica.com
AMSTERDAM - Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers has called for the toleration of soft drugs in the Netherlands to be extended to the production and supply of cannabis in a bid to reduce crime.
Presently, both possession and the sale of cannabis at so-called "coffee shops" is tolerated, but the production of marijuana and the supply to coffee shops is banned.
Leers said the ban on the cultivation and supply of cannabis leads to criminality, news agency ANP reported on Sunday. Small-scale cannabis cultivation for private use is already tolerated.
Tolerating commercial production would decriminalise the industry and police resources would therefore be freed up for other tasks, he said.
But Leers also warned that extended toleration should be accompanied by greater inspections on the amount and quality of the drugs.
Leers said drugs cannot be eliminated and should therefore be legalised and controlled. But he said legalisation could only occur in a European context.
Opening up of the cannabis market could thus only occur if Maastricht's neighbouring councils in Belgium and Germany also co-operated. This would give a definite signal to The Hague and Brussels.
Leers comments come in the lead-up to a cannabis conference in Maastricht in April, to be attended by the southern Dutch city's neighbouring councils. Drug tourists often cross the border to avail of the Dutch coffee shop policy.
And Leers' proposal is in contrast to his hard-line stance against trailer parks. These parks often operate as "free states" where people can live almost tax free and are frequently the site of cannabis plantations.
He also said during a visit to the US last month with other politicians and city mayors that the Netherlands was no longer the land where everything is allowed.
Leers said tolerance is okay, but only works within well defined parameters that must be carefully guarded.
Asserting that the Netherlands was getting tougher, Leers said it was never too late to clean up your own rubbish. He said the US needed to know the Dutch were no "softies" when it comes to drugs.