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Newshawk: WallyB
Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jun 2000
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Address: P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802
Fax: (808) 523-8509
Author: Associated Press
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Dutch lawmakers seek to regulate pot crops

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- In a country where selling small packets of hash and marijuana is already openly tolerated, farmers in this Dutch nation may soon be able to grow the soft drug without fear of punishment.

The Dutch parliament adopted a resolution yesterday to tolerate the cultivation of cannabis and to regulate the crop, government officials said today.

Legislators from two of the three parties in the government coalition drafted the motion, which passed the 150-seat chamber by a 73-72 vote.

But the vote was so narrow that Justice Ministry spokesman Victor Holtus said it was unlikely the cabinet would approve the resolution. It was to be discussed Friday, and if endorsed, would then be drafted for legislation.

"It sharply contradicts international agreements and we don't live on an island. It is assumed that the minister won't support it," he said.

The motion avoids using the term "legalization," apparently to curtail reaction by other countries.

As any tourist to Amsterdam soon learns, some 3,000 "coffee shops" openly sell hash and marijuana for smoking, or hash cakes and cookies for eating.

But authorities still crack down on the cultivation and supply of it. Tons of cannabis grown in Dutch fields are impounded each year, even though some city residents grow it in their window boxes.

"One of the main objectives is to fight crime," said Labor Party parliamentarian Thanasis Apostolou, who helped draft the motion. "By regulating the supply we would know who is selling what and where it is going."

But Holtus said the proposal would do nothing to curtail international crime syndicates.

The sponsors, he said, "want to officially regulate a group of selected hemp growers so they can keep tabs on the supply. Simply said: it's the legalization of hemp cultivation. To call this anything else is just playing word games."

The resolution aims to curb exports -- an illegal business now worth up to $8.5 billion annually, Apostolou said.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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