In total, 35 local authorities have signed a manifesto calling on the government to sanction official experiments with legal marijuana production.
The council leaders argue regulated growing would end the grey area between semi-legalised sales in cannabis cafes and illegal supply by criminal gangs.
The signatories include the mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Utrecht and Groningen. ‘The current situation is unsustainable,’ said Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.
Eindhoven mayor Rob van Gijzel said: ‘Prohibition in the US led to major criminality which is still there today.’ Regulation would remove criminals from the equation, Van Gijzel said.
But justice minister Ivo Opstelten has again said he will not agree to any relaxation of the law. ‘Even if there are 10 manifestos, the answer will remain a convinced no,’ the minister told Nos television.
Local councils will have to learn to live with his decision not to sanction regulated production. ‘It is up to me, not them,’ the minister said.
The public prosecution department and police fully support this position, Opstelten said, and stressed international treaties do not allow marijuana to be grown.
Some 80% of Dutch production is for export and regulated production would not be good for the Netherlands reputation abroad, he said.
A poll for television show EenVandaag two weeks ago showed six out of 10 Dutch people think it would be a good idea if Dutch councils organised marijuana production themselves.
In particular, two-thirds of those who support Opstelten’s own party, the right-wing VVD Liberals, back government-controlled production.