Amsterdam- The Netherlands is the European hemp country pre-eminently. With an estimated 40,000 home growers, we are on the top the list, papers headlines today. It is not surprising that Maastricht is a large weed paradise. There are plenty of 'shops' that sell the stuff in large quantities to mainly foreign drug tourists and there are suppliers of the weed. As super market Albert Heijn is supplied with big trucks daily, so are the coffee shops in Maastricht supplied by small home growers or professional, illegal organizations engaged in larger-scale weed cultivation. The latter happens mostly out of town or just across the border in sheds, barns and other inconspicuous unoccupied buildings.
Lots of people from Maastricht earn some money - well it is a lot of money – with the cultivation of hemp. No, there are no trucks driving around with the names of coffee shops that ensure that the shelves are full in the morning before 11 am. Because in this crazy country it is illegal to grow hemp, and the 'shops' officially may only have a small stock, supplying happens inconspicuous. Rented vans bring some soda and coffee from the Sligro, and put some weed in between inconspicuously. Private cars stop in front of the coffee shop more often at late times. The garbage is picked up by a white, inconspicuous van while the garbage man not only picks up, but also brings, and there are some more 'discreet' suppliers like this.
The weed is often from the small home grower. You bet plenty is harvested before Christmas in home grow country. Many Christmas presents under the tree are financed with drug money. The home growers can hardly be blamed. A little green at the house to help the drug tourist cannot hurt? Especially in these tough, economic times. Bankers or Floriade directors grab merrily, so why can a welfare mother not earn some extra pocket money for the children?
Every two days, a hemp plantation - large or small – is wound up in South Limburg. And you understand that the wound up hemp plantations are the tip of the hemp iceberg. The problem is much bigger than many people think, but at the same time the economic significance of hemp cultivation is so gigantic that the problem is not soluble anymore. Meanwhile, so many people are involved with the lucrative trade that there is no way back. The home grower where 50 plants are found today is back to work the day after tomorrow. As long as there is trade, illegal hemp cultivation remains. "And ah", is a reaction to the article on the newspaper's website: "The money that is earned with hemp cultivation at least does not go to the banks!"