Cannabis Tolerance part 2: Growing Weed in The Netherlands

Dutch Cannabis laws are far less tolerant than often perceived; as we’ve discovered in our previous article ‘Cannabis Tolerance part 1: Buying Weed in the Netherlands.’ Even though it’s tolerated for coffeeshops to sell weed and hash under strict conditions, growing cannabis on a professional scale is not. Although some grows are tolerated – this is what you need to know:

Falling Behind

In the first part of this two-part blog, ‘Cannabis Tolerance part 1: Buying Weed in The Netherlands‘, it became clear that Dutch laws are less tolerant than often perceived when it comes to buying weed. This is a big shame, according to the majority of people working in the Dutch cannabis industry.

Especially if you take in consideration that Amsterdam was long deemed the cannabis capitol of the world since the herb’s introduction in Europe. After all, Amsterdam used to have one of the most important ports of the world. Amsterdam’s port was a place where sailors and merchants traded their cannabis, seeds and other goods from all over the globe. Nowadays, with Barcelona quickly taking the lead, the Dutch capitol isn’t even leading in Europe. What happened?

coffeeshops amsterdam
Amsterdam once was the ‘Cannabis Capitol’ of the world, now it isn’t even leading in Europe.

From Stems to Sensemillia

Cannabis became popular in the Netherlands in the 60’s-70’s – although it was around for much longer. Back then, consumers had not much more than hashish, brick weed and Thai sticks to fulfill their needs. The flower available in that period was full of stems and seeds; and it’s effect wasn’t even close to that of a well-grown bud cultivated this day and age. Hence, the Dutch cannabis consumers – led by a few pioneers in the game crossing strains to create new variations – started growing their own weed.

This homegrow-trend gave birth to a concept known as ‘growshops’. Stores that sell substrates (soil, coco or hydro systems), fertilizers, lights and back in the day even sold clones. Making it easy for anyone to walk in, gain advice, purchase everything they need in one place (including live cannabis plants) and start growing their own weed at home. An easy job, which became even easier after the introduction of feminized cannabis seeds in the early 90’s.

Also interesting: ‘How To Spot: Male, Female and Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants

Obviously, this helped the development of the modern coffeeshop. As it were small home growers who’d supply coffeeshops with their harvest to sell. Bringing in more variation and  creating a true cannabis scene in Amsterdam. Attracting growers, breeders and enthusiasts from all over the world. A reason why most of the knowledge, genetics and technology present in the cannabis industry today originated in the Netherlands.

growshop cannabis positronics cannabsi
Wernard and Yolanda Bruining from one of the Netherlands’ first growshops ‘Positronics’ in Amsterdam in 1995. [Picture: Stichting Mediwiet]

Growing Weed Illegal

Growing cannabis was never really legal in the Netherlands. Though the government only started cracking down on home growers, growshops and even seedbanks in the late 90’s/early 00’s. This repressive policy reached its peak with the ‘Growshop law’ in 2014/2015. Which made it illegal for growshops, seed banks, electricians helping growers set-up an installation and landlords renting out room for grows to facilitate large-scale cannabis cultivation. Shutting down the majority of these growshops and scaring the Dutch home grower, gave room for organized crime to take over a large portion of the Dutch cannabis production.

To this day, growing cannabis is still illegal in the Netherlands. And running a professional grow room with intent to distribute will get you a fine. Indeed, professional growers will not get jail time when charged with this ‘illegal activity’. They literally get ‘plucked’. Whereby the justice department calculates how much money you’ve made with your grow(s) to seize it – so they can profit from your hard work.

Tolerated Home Grow

Luckily, this strange Dutch ‘Tolerance Policy’ does turn a blind eye when it comes to small-time home growers. You won’t get charged if you are caught growing weed. As long as you have less than 5 plants and the grow is not set-up ‘too professional’. Meaning no powerful lights and big extractor-fans, hydro-systems and automation-systems.

Nor are police officers actively searching for grows to bust. As more and more judges start realize that the cannabis sold in coffeeshops has to be cultivated somewhere. Moreover, it’s extremely hypocritical to bust home growers while still allowing them to purchase the same stuff from a coffeeshop down the road. Where it is probably not as clean and well-cured as your homegrown weed would be. Therefore it is not uncommon for growers to win court-cases on growing cannabis at home in the Netherlands the last few years.

cannabis plant restaurant terrace
You could, theoretically, grow cannabis on the terrace of a restaurant. As long as nobody complaints, police will most likely not interfere.

The Dutch police may not actively look for cannabis plants. Though they still have to act when someone calls to ‘complain’ about a grow. Even if you grow them in your garden, without any artificial help, officers are still obligated to seize your cannabis plants if someone complains about them. So, if you’re planning to grow your own cannabis in the Netherlands, make sure to not cause any hinder and be extra nice to your neighbors.

READ PART 1