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Utrecht seeks to regulate cannabis production19 April 2013, by Mark McDaid
The city of Utrecht is applying for the right to open "Cannabis Clubs" in order to regulate the production of cannabis and perform medical research into the dangers of the drug.
Opium Act exemption
Two foundations in the city have applied to the Ministry of Health for an exemption to the Opium Act on scientific grounds. They are backed by alderman Victor Everhardt (D66) who had proposed the regulation of cannabis production two years previously, but had his proposition rejected by Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.
This time the alderman is approaching the issue from the angle of public health and order, in the hope of creating an alternative to the "back door" policy of the coffeeshops whose product is often supplied by criminal gangs.
The plan is to create a number of Cannabis Clubs which will have a maximum of 100 members who will secure their drugs from these regulated facilities. The foundations who will run these clubs will then perform research into, for example, the psychological effects of the drug on the members.
Another important consideration for the alderman is the research that will be conducted into the difference between the strength and effect of regulated marijuana growth, and weed supplied by the coffeeshops.
Marijuana grown for the coffeeshops often has a much higher content of THC - the active ingredient in the drug - and the growing process often involves the use of dangerous pesticides.
Photo by Flickr user cagrimmett
Everhardt’s approach to the problem has already had the backing of lawyer Andre Beckers, a legal expert in cannabis and coffeeshop policy. He praises the alderman’s use of the public health angle, and is quoted in the Volkskrant as saying that "In America there are already many medical marijuana shops which look suspiciously like our coffeeshops."
Whether or not the plan will be more effective than the wietpas system, that was introduced last year, remains to be seen, but as more and more Dutch cities look to regulate cannabis production in order to gain more control over the industry, this new path tread by the city of Utrecht could become an increasingly popular route towards cannabis regulation.