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Will the Westland become the Weedland?

Majority of Dutch parliament backs regulated cannabis cultivation

After nearly 40 years of 'gedoogbeleid', a larger part of the Dutch government is finally feeling something for regulated cannabis production. Are the Netherlands following in the footsteps of countries like the U.S. and Canada and will the Westland become the Weedland?

While the Dutch were frontrunners with the legalization of recreational use of cannabis since 1976, Holland's marijuana policy is still a bit infant if you look at the current developments across the U.S. and Canada where a legalized and regulated cannabis market is currently causing a stir in the commercial greenhouse industry.

While for the rest of the world, Holland may have always seemed to be the most tolerant country in Europe, to its citizens the cannabis policy has always been a subject of criticism.

The unregulated market to grow cannabis has always been a thorn in the side of many politicians. While adults are allowed to walk in a Coffee Shop' to buy and posses a maximum of five grams of cannabis, the owner of the Coffee Shops are limited to bring in the cannabis through the back door. It is illegal to grow, trade and traffic marijuana for them. Holland has about 600 coffee shops that account for the sale of about 1 billion euros of marijuana per year. The shops can't buy from legal producers and have to source their ganja from the illegal circuit.

And that illegal circuit is causing big troubles; on average the Dutch police busts 16 illegal grow operations per day. These are often operated in family homes and offices, and are part of a much larger criminal network. Last year a total of 5,856 illegal marijuana operations were busted, a total of 10 hectares of production. According to the police this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The illegal operations are mostly run with stolen electricity and often cause significant fire danger to neighbors.

Several politicians have been pleading for years to regulate the cannabis market. For the first time in history, a majority of the Dutch parliament is now backing the plans to go towards a more regulated market and believe that it will contribute to public health and will decrease criminality; the quality of the marijuana can be regulated, just like its growth.

The plan is that the coffee shops can buy their regulated cannabis from growers with permits, similar to the current situation in some States of the U.S. The Dutch parliament wants to introduce the system before the new elections, that will take place in March 2017.

The question is how the Dutch greenhouse industry, with all its knowledge on controlled environment agriculture and greenhouse technology will respond to this. In the United States some of the first producers of plants and vegetables already made a switch to this new cash crop. Will the famous greenhouse area in the Dutch Westland become the Weedland?