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Old 10-06-2011, 09:19 PM   #1
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Angry Dutch cannabis café culture dealt fresh blow

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By Bruno Waterfield
3:21PM BST 06 Oct 2011

The ban will apply to cannabis with a high level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is expected to be set at 15 per cent.

THC is the chemical compound in marijuana which gives users a "high" and that, in sufficient quantities, has been blamed for causing addiction and psychotic reactions.

The decision will be a major blow to the country's cannabis cafés because some 80 per cent of the marijuana sold is grown in the Netherlands, with a THC content of between 15 and 18 per cent.

Dutch "coffee shops" are facing an onslaught of regulation and restrictions in a country where it is legal to sell cannabis but where it remains illegal to grow it.

Cannabis cafés near to schools have been closed and in a bid to crack down on drug tourism the authorities are planning to limit sales to people who have a "grass pass", a document restricted to Dutch residents.

Earlier this year, a government commission recommended making the change because new hybrid "skunk" cannabis varieties, grown locally and illegally, were as dangerous as hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Research by the Trimbos Institute, a Dutch mental health charity, has found that the popularity of the strong cannabis is pushing out milder imported marijuana.
"Buyers ask for the most popular and the strongest weed," it concluded.
But the owners of cannabis cafés have protested that the plan to rate "skunk" as a class A drug will be unworkable because the criminalisation of marijuana farming means that proper inspections of THC are not carried out.
"They are imposing something on us which we cannot control,' said Marc Josemans of the national coffee shop association Landelijk Overleg Coffeeshopbonden. "We welcome quality controls but we need to have the opportunity to control it."
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