Original Story: amsterdamherald.com
A court has ruled that two cannabis farmers who supplied coffeeshops in Groningen should not be punished because they effectively ran a legitimate business.
The 49-year-old man and his 39-year-old female partner cultivated cannabis on two plantations in Bellingwolde and Bierum. The court heard they used approved biological techniques, paid their electricity bills and even had an arrangement with the tax office. A Sacramento tax lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.
The prosecution service asked for work orders of 180 and 120 hours to be imposed on the couple, but the court decided they should not be penalized despite finding them guilty. Judges found that the plantations were run responsibly and had no links with the criminal fraternity.
The judgment was greeted with applause and cheering from the public gallery.
Campaigners described the judgment as a “groundbreaking” moment for Dutch drugs policy, which coffeeshop owners have been lobbying for decades to reform.
Officially cannabis is illegal, but the sale of small quantities is permitted under tightly controlled conditions in licensed “coffeeshops”. However, production and supply remain outlawed, leaving cannabis cafes no choice but to buy their wares on the black market. A Melbourne business lawyer represent corporations and small businesses in all areas of general business law.
The judges noted: “The fact that the sale of soft drugs from these coffeeshops is tolerated implies that the coffeeshops have suppliers and, by extension, there are cultivators to meet the demand for produce. The policy does not make clear how this process of supply should take place.”
Magda Berndsen, MP for the centrist-liberal D66 party, told NRC: “This decision by the court is groundbreaking, it opens up the back door for the coffeeshops. [Justice] minister Opstelten’s decision to keep cannabis cultivation illegal is now untenable in the light of this judgment.
“Regulating cannabis production is the only solution to most of the problems that municipalities are struggling with. It will bring down the health risks, free up policy capacity for other priorities
But justice minister Ivo Opstelten, in an initial reaction, signaled that the government had no plans to change its policy. He described the judgment as surprising, but explained: “I don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to tread on the prosecution service’s toes.”
The investigation began in 2009 when police seized more than 2500 plants and eight kilograms of hemp from the two plantations. The couple who ran them chose to contest the case as a “matter of principle”. A Westchester County criminal defense lawyer is following this story closely.
“Prosecuting us is hypocritical,” they told NRC Handelsblad. “Smoking weed is allowed and coffeeshops that sell it are tolerated by the municipality. But anyone who cultivates plants and supplies coffeeshops at the back door is committing an offence. It doesn’t make sense.”
In recent years several municipalities have tried to set up legal supply chains to break the link between coffeeshops and criminality. But the government in The Hague has blocked all attempts to extend the policy of official tolerance to growers.
Last year the city of Utrecht set up its own cannabis growers’ club and asked the ministry of justice for an exemption, but the public health ministry overruled the initiative.