The Dutch parliament has voted to allow the cultivation of marijuana.
A narrow majority of MPs backed the legislation which will regulate marijuana cultivation under government control.
The vote, by 77 to 72, will allow cannabis cafe owners to buy their product from licensed growers who produce marijuana in a closed system.
What does this mean?
The decision effectively legalises the country’s longstanding policy of tolerance.
Politicians are hoping that introducing licensed marijuana production will remove the grey area between illegal cultivation and licensed cannabis cafes and coffee shops.
Small amounts of of marijuana can be bought here for personal use.
When will the bill become law?
It is not sure it will.
Despite support in the lower house of parliament, there is no guarantee the legislation will actually become law.
This is because it does not have majority backing in the upper house of parliament.
What has been the legal situation so far?
Until now, marijuana has technically been illegal.
However, police declined to prosecute possession of amounts less than several grams.
Officials say 5,856 marijuana plantations were dismantled in the Netherlands in 2015.
That is an average of nearly 16 a day.
However, police estimate this is only one fifth of the total.
Support for legalising marijuana
- Benefits for health and human rights
- Illegal production linked to criminal violence, fires, environmental and noise pollution and the spread of legionella bacteria
(Radboud University research)
The Dutch Public Prosecution department opposes the bill, saying:
- it conflicts with international treaties
- most of the marijuana grown in the Netherlands is destined for abroad and regulated production will not impact on this