Cannabis Café Black Market Loophole Plugged

The easy-going Dutch are drafting new laws to close a loophole that could see cannabis café owners hauled before the courts for breaking drug supply laws.

Although the country has a relaxed policy about cannabis, the authorities have tolerated the cafes as supplying the drug is illegal.

With 573 cafes in more than 100 towns and cities, this anomaly has created a lucrative black market for producing and wholesaling the drug in The Netherlands.

In October last year, the Dutch government launched a trial allowing the legal supply of cannabis to coffee shops covering 10 towns and cities.

The aim was to find out how legalising the supply of cannabis would impact users and their communities.

Four-year experiment

The trial looked at how cannabis legalisation impacted health, crime, public safety and nuisance.

The inquiry also showed 16% of young adults in The Netherlands had used cannabis in the past year, compared with 10% in Belgium, 13% in Germany and 22% in France.

Now, the government has decided to experiment for four years to see if legalising cannabis for supply is a success.

The first step is to change the law to legalise the supply of the drug. The government will also licence growers and set up a research body.

Next comes the four-year experimental period.

At the end of the trial, the government will either continue with a legal cannabis supply chain or revert to the current law.

How the world polices cannabis

Many countries have lax cannabis law enforcement.

In the USA, some states, such as Alaska, California, Nevada and Massachusetts, have legalised the supply and possession of cannabis.

Uruguay has legalised possession and use, but not buying for foreigners.

In Spain, possession and use is decriminalised in private, but illegal in public.

Rastafarians can possess and grow cannabis in Jamaica.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction says cannabis is the most widely-used drug in Europe, with 20 million adults taking the drug within the past year and around 3 million people using daily.

About three in every four drug offences reported in Europe relates to cannabis.

One of the most common side effects is driving while under the influence, leading to road traffic accidents.