How much weed can you grow at home? Can you get evicted for having a few plants out in the garden or in a cupboard? Are you wondering about laws and regulations governing growing cannabis? If you want to avoid fines (or worse), it’s convenient and smart to know what is and what isn’t legal in the Netherlands and in other countries. Cannabis is classified a ‘soft drug’ in the Netherlands. Increasingly, other countries are making a distinction between weed and ‘harder’ types of drugs. In countries where cannabis isn’t fully illegal, local laws govern how much you can grow and carry, and where you can or cannot consume it.
Dutch Tolerance Policy
As mentioned above, cannabis is listed as a ‘soft drug’ in the Netherlands, just like certain types of sleep medication and sedatives. These don’t come with substantial health risks. ‘Hard drugs’, on the other hand, are usually very harmful. Dutch hard drug listings include XTC, heroin, and cocaine, to name but a few. National laws are very different for soft drugs and hard drugs. In this blog, you’ll read all about Dutch cannabis legislation. That includes growing weed as well as its possession, use, and cross-border traffic.
Here in the Netherlands, we have a particular knack for devising half-baked regulations and measures. Keen as the authorities may be on a full-blown cannabis ban, shutting the entire sector down is a bit too much. You can see this Dutch tendency in different sections of the law, but it is glaringly obvious when it comes to weed. Here, we have a tolerance policy, or gedoogbeleid in Dutch.
An example of the ambiguity underpinning our cannabis tolerance policy is growing weed at home. In theory, growing cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, you will not be prosecuted if you get caught, provided you don’t qualify as a commercial grower. Don’t be fooled though: keep a close eye on what is allowed and what isn’t, because you could run into some unpleasant consequences if you don’t.
Before this article gives you a false sense of secury, a warning is in place. Always keep in mind that laws change all the time. Also, this blog discusses current national cannabis laws. Local authorities often impose their own local rules on cannabis use and growing, on top of existing national rules. If you want to be 100% sure, check your national and local legislation before you decide to start growing!
Cannabis Laws: Growing Weed In The Netherlands
Under present laws, growing weed is tolerated up to a maximum limit of five cannabis plants. Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, though. If the police happen to notice your plants, they will confiscate and remove them. The positive side is, they will rarely prosecute you over your amateur growing efforts. If you decide to grow more than five plants, however, you’re entering a different league altogether. The authorities could consider you a professional grower, and that comes with some serious penalties, including a maximum prison sentence of four years and a €67,000 fine. Another factor to consider is your home. Regardless of what the police decide to do about your homegrowing efforts, landlords and mortgage lenders may act on their own behalf. Obviously, homegrown weed is not much fun without a home…
Cannabis Laws On Possession Of Weed
When it comes to possession, Dutch law tolerates cannabis. The law states that you can carry five grams of weed, provided it is for personal use. The funny thing is, such possession is theoretically punishable by law, but again, you will not be prosecuted due to tolerance principles. If you are carrying between 5 and 30 grams of cannabis, you are committing a felony. You’ll get a €75 fine and lose your cannabis. At 30 grams, that’s probably going to cost you more than the fine itself…
Fines increase on repeated offenses. Courts can order adolescents under 18 to perform 16 to 30 hours of community service on top of potential €80 to €150 fines. Planning to go out carrying more than 30g of cannabis? Tread carefully: you’re risking a €16,750 fine and a 2-year maximum prison sentence!
Cannabis Laws On Purchasing Weed
Cannabis laws also govern purchase of weed. A five-gram maximum purchase is the individual limit. More importantly, you can only buy weed at an officially licensed coffeeshop. Oddly, Dutch tolerance policy imposes limits on the coffeeshops as well. No more than 5 grams per customer, and no stocking up on wares over 500 grams. If you have an idea of the number of customers visiting your average Dutch coffeeshop on any given day, you don’t need to be a mathematician to sense that something is wrong here.
Laws On Smoking Cannabis In Public
Dutch law allows for the use of soft drugs in public space. However, many municipalities want to ban use of (soft) drug in public. There are currently 218 Dutch municipalities where a public space drug ban is in effect. These prohibitions cover parks and public buildings as well as streets and sidewalks. Of course, a ban on the use of drugs includes a ban on smoking weed. This map, based on research by national news broadcaster NOS, shows you where the ban is in effect.
Growing Weed For Tenants And Home Owners
Under present Dutch law, landlords can be held accountable for cannabis grown in the property they rent out. Any costs incurred for dismantling the operation are charged to the landlord. Logically, this causes Dutch landlords to keep a close watch on what goes on in and around their properties. In addition, if you get caught growing weed in a rented property, finding a new home to rent could become a lot harder.
Even if you’ve bought a home, you could run into trouble if the cops find your cannabis plants. They will definitely notify your mortgage lender. This earns you a listing as a fraud in a digital warning system. Once you’re on that list, you’ll find it almost impossible to get a new mortgage.
Cannabis Laws Across Europe
If you wish to enjoy a spliff while on holiday, Europe is still your safest destination. Be careful, though, as Europe is a patchwork of different countries; each with their own cannabis laws and legislation. Generally speaking, though, the more liberal European countries are your best bet when it comes to cannabis legality and availability. After the Netherlands, you’ll find the best cannabis conditions in Spain. Here, medicinal and recreational use of marijuana is allowed, and the domestic cannabis industry is on the rise. Barcelona is the best place to try your luck, with over 400 cannabis clubs and the largest European cannabis event: Spannabis!
When it comes to weed, Spain is a lot like the Netherlands. There are some important differences, however. In the sunny Spanish countryside, you can grow all the weed you like. The cannabis clubs operate by a membership system, though. That means you can’t just walk in and get your stash without being a member. Also, maximum quantities allowed differ between clubs.
In Germany, you can use cannabis on medical grounds; recreational use is illegal. Sadly, the majority of the German population is still against decriminalization. If you’re deciding to take cannabis with you across the German border regardless of the above, be careful. The various regions across Germany differ strongly in their approach to cannabis offenders.
France is slowly growing more tolerant in its cannabis laws. Cannabis is still illegal throughout the country, but these days, you’ll usually get away with a €200 fine if you get caught with weed in France. Of course, the system treats you harsher if you appear to grow cannabis on a professional level.
There’s plenty of toking going on in the United Kingdom, and there are quite a few Brits in favour of legalization. Still, you’d best avoid puffing away your British holiday, because potential penalties are nothing to sneeze at: lengthy prison terms and monetary fines with no upper limits.
Across Europe, several countries have decriminalized weed. This means that cannabis is not legal yet, but there are circumstances in which you’re let off the hook. In Czechia, you can now carry a maximum of 15 grams of weed without prosecution. Italy and Poland have also decriminalized cannabis for personal use. And in Switzerland, you can now carry small quantities for personal use.
Dutch Cannabis Laws: Relatively Sane?
Say what you like about our half-baked Dutch cannabis laws, but there are plenty of places where things are a lot worse. Fortunately, you now know what the legal context is, so you know what to expect. Let’s hope that international laws and legislation on weed will become more and more tolerant. As ever more nations and states move towards (partial) legalization, that situation appears to be getting closer. Until then, at least you know what you’re dealing with on the legal side of cannabis!