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Europe: Dutch Police Grumble About Home Grows

Dutch police are publicly grumbling that marijuana policies which turn a blind eye to people growing five plants or fewer should be toughened, and so should those that target commercial growers. While growing marijuana plants is technically illegal in Holland, prosecutors routinely ignore grows of fewer than five plants, just as they ignore possession of up to five grams.

But a police spokesman quoted in the Amsterdam newspaper Volkskrant thinks small time growers are growing for profit. They can make up to $5,000 a year on five plants, complained Detective Ben Janssen.

Commercial growers are also getting off too easy, Janssen said. "At the moment they get community service of 60 to 80 hours. There should be a clear signal that (marijuana production) is unacceptable," he said.

Dutch police bust about 8,000 commercial grows a year, according to figures published in the Telegraaf.

Commercial marijuana growers supply Holland's famous marijuana coffee houses, but the Dutch government refuses to regularize that component of the domestic marijuana business out of fear of running afoul of international treaty obligations. Dutch growers and activists call it the "back door problem," since the marijuana sold in the coffee shops can leave out the front door with a wink and a nod from the authorities, but the marijuana being supplied must come in the back door, leaving growers and coffee shops stuck in a grey market.

Janssen also called for a crackdown on grow shops, where seeds, lights, fertilizers, and other marijuana growing equipment is sold. "They are the way in for organized marijuana growing," he said.

There is little to suggest an imminent crackdown on home pot growers by the Dutch authorities, but the public complaining by police is a clear indication the Dutch marijuana business cannot let down its guard.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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