Weed control: Holland to ban cafes from selling 'strong' cannabis

Ruth Doherty

Weed control: Holland to ban cafes from selling 'strong' cannabis
Weed control: Holland to ban cafes from selling 'strong' cannabis


Holland is making moves to classify highly potent cannabis in the same category as hard drugs like cocaine and ecstasy, in a bid to change its tolerant reputation.

Holland's 'coffee shops' are a big draw with tourists, but an ongoing Dutch crackdown on marijuana is part of a decade-long rethink of the country's liberalism in general that has seen a third of the windows in Amsterdam's famous prostitution district shuttered.

The number of licensed marijuana cafes has also been reduced, and earlier this year the Government announced plans to ban tourists from buying weed.

Possession of marijuana is illegal in the Netherlands, but police do not prosecute people for small amounts, and it is sold openly in certain cafes.

But Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen has said weed containing more than 15% of its main active chemical, THC, is so much stronger than what was common a generation ago that it should now be considered among hard drugs.

The decision means that the marijuana currently sold in cafes will be replaced by milder alternatives.

But critics suggest the crackdown will be nigh on impossible, and that it could just encourage people to smoke more of the less potent varieties.

Gerrit-Jan ten Bloomendal, spokesman for the Platform of Cannabis Businesses in the Netherlands, told news.com.au: 'How are we going to know whether a given batch exceeds 15% THC? For that matter, how would health inspectors know?'

He also predicted a black market will develop for high-potency weed if the ruling goes ahead.

The cabinet has so far not confirmed when it will begin enforcing the new rule.