Stricter approach to the illegal production of cannabis

All acts of persons and companies in preparation and facilitation of the illegal production of cannabis will be made liable to punishment. Also if the persons involved do not grow cannabis themselves. The council of ministers has agreed to the bill prepared by Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice, which includes this criminalisation. The extent and professionalization of the illegal production of cannabis constitute a risk to the safety of society that require decisive and effective action. It will become liable to a term of imprisonment of three years.

Current legislation does not provide sufficient scope to deal severely with persons and companies that do not produce cannabis, but do make their money providing goods or services and the financing for the illegal production of cannabis. The legislative amendment makes it possible to deal with all links in the preparatory phase of the production chain of cannabis. The bill is the legal closing element to actual reduce the illegal production of cannabis. In 2009 alone, 4,727 illegal production sites were dismantled and 850,000 cannabis plants were seized.

The days of the small hobby growers are gone. The illegal production of cannabis has become more professional. This is evident, inter alia, from the selective breeding in plants and the refinement of growing techniques, the installation for electricity tapping facilities, organising the production, the purchase of end product and the laundering of the proceeds. There are many activities that surround the illegal production of cannabis, but which do not relate to the production itself. This applies primarily to grow shops. These have grown into the linchpin of the illegal production of cannabis. They do not just supply goods for the production on a large scale, but they also arrange for the financing and equipping of production facilities. There are, however, also companies that promote the illegal production of cannabis in a less visible manner, such as transport and distribution companies, warehouse and shed lessors and electricians that install electrical installations. Dug-in sea containers that serve as growing space are found as well, including professional equipment that is usually available from specialist companies. There is even trade in ready-to-use closets for growing cannabis (cuttings).

The measure to make acts in preparation of the illegal production of cannabis liable to punishment is part of the Dutch government's policy to intensify the fight against the illegal production of cannabis. This also applies to the Organised Crime Taskforce Brabant that recently managed, during a large-scale action, to dismantle more than 23 cannabis production sites and to detain 22 persons in the process.

The cabinet has agreed to the bill being sent to the Council of State for its opinion. The text of the legislative proposal and the Council of State's opinion will be published upon submission to the Lower House of Parliament.